Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Michael J. Hayes

Second Advisor

Mark E. Burbach

Third Advisor

Martha Shulski

Date of this Version



Chavez, A. (2022). Towards Usable Environmental Information: A Case Study With the Santee Sioux Nation [Master's thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln]. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Digital Commons.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professors Mark Burbach and Michael J. Hayes. Lincoln, Nebraska: August 2022

Copyright © 2022 Alexis Chavez


Across the United States (U.S.), Indigenous peoples have developed and implemented adaptation plans to improve their resilience to climate and weather disturbances. An essential component of these plans is to use environmental information effectively. Institutions like universities and government agencies usually provide this information, and its usability depends on the information’s quality and the relationships that establish its accessibility and validity. However, many studies have shown that much of this information is not usable for its intended users. Additionally, there has been little research into the issues that can affect Indigenous peoples’ usage of environmental information in the U.S. Therefore, this case study aimed to assist the capacity of the Santee Sioux Nation’s Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) in using environmental information by investigating how to improve it and how others can improve their collaborative practices with the OEP. An exploratory case study with employees from the OEP was developed with a focus group, document analysis, and observations. The analysis reveals that most of the obstacles to usability result from current structural issues connected to past U.S. government actions. In addition, the relationship between the information producers and users is a critical factor for the usability of environmental information.

Co-advisors: Mark Burbach and Michael J. Hayes