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The U.S. Government Is Paying to Move Native Tribes Affected by Climate Change

The U.S. Government Is Paying to Move Native Tribes Affected by Climate Change

Three Native American communities are receiving millions of dollars from the U.S. government to relocate their tribes due to climate change-related risks.

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced that the Quinault Indian Nation, located in Washington, and the villages of Newtok and Napakiak, both located in Alaska, will each receive $25 million to fund their relocation. The tribes all live along coastlines and rivers that are subject to flood and erosion risks.

“As part of the federal government’s treaty and trust responsibility to protect Tribal sovereignty and revitalize tribal communities, we must safeguard Indian Country from the intensifying and unique impacts of climate change,” said  Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “Helping these communities move to safety on their homelands is one of the most important climate related investments we could make in Indian Country.”

The funding comes from investments set aside in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. The first step in the process will allow communities to move their most important buildings to more secure locations. The process is known as a “managed retreat,” and is considered to be the most cost effective way to build resilience in communities.

In addition to the three native tribes, eight other communities will receive $5 million each from the government for future climate resilience or plans for relocation.

Even with the funding, relocation can take years, as communities often struggle determining where they should move. And after that decision is made, it can take time to convince members of the community to leave behind the place they’ve always called home.

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