Federal Grants Fund Tribal Relocation Efforts

Tribal communities threatened by climate change are opting to relocate or engage in ‘managed retreat’ to save their villages from sea level rise, erosion, flooding, and other climate impacts.

1 minute read

January 4, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


View of Washington State beach with grey rocks

The Quinault Indian Nation wants to relocate Taholah Village, which is threatened by sea level rise and flooding. | Ansel B / Quinault tribal beach in Washington state

Eleven tribal communities have received federal relocation grants to help them move to safety to avoid the impacts of climate change, reports Kristi Eaton in the Daily Yonder.

The grants, which are worth $5 million each, are earmarked for communities facing significant and widely varied climate risks, including coastal and riverine erosion, permafrost degradation, wildfire, flooding, food insecurity, sea level rise, hurricane impacts, potential levee failure, and drought.

The grants are funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, “which provides a total of $466 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) over five years, including $216 million for climate resilience programs,” Eaton explains. “The Inflation Reduction Act provides BIA with an additional $220 million for climate adaptation and resilience, of which the Department anticipates spending $40 million to support voluntary community-driven relocation efforts, with the remainder supporting broader Tribal climate resilience activities.”

The Alaskan village of Newtok, one of the grant recipients, “decided to relocate in 1994 after a decade of trying to address the community’s erosion threat by other means of mitigation.” Another Alaskan village, Napakiak, “is conducting a managed retreat, which is different from a relocation,” in that threatened homes are moved to nearby locations adjacent to the current community. The grants aim to help communities figure out their best action plan for mitigating climate impacts and relocating when necessary.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023 in The Daily Yonder

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