Climate change is a major challenge to Arctic and other Indigenous peoples, but not the only and often not the most pressing one. We propose re-framing the treatment of climate change in policy and research, to make sure health, poverty, education, cultural vitality, equity, justice, and other topics highlighted by the people themselves and not just climate science also get the attention they deserve in research on global and regional environmental change. Climate change can often exacerbate other problems, but a singular focus on climate change—as is often the case in much existing environmental literature on the Arctic and elsewhere—can distract from actions that can be taken now to improve the lives of Arctic peoples. The same logic also applies elsewhere in the world, where diverse residents face a host of challenges, opportunities, and obstacles, with climate change but one among many issues. Our proposed approach to regional and global environmental change research draws on the ideas of decolonization, emphasizing collaborative approaches and Indigenous voices in research and policy instead of top-down measures designed outside the affected communities. Only in this way of contextualizing human-environmental experiences can the full effects of climate change be understood—and appropriate responses developed and carried out to adapt to global change.