Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press
The dried-out bed of Lake Mendocino, California, in February 2014. The state is gripped in its worst drought in recorded history, and a new study has found that climate change is to blame.

9 Tribal Nations Taking a Direct Hit From Climate Change

Terri Hansen

It is no secret that American Indian communities are at the forefront of climate change. From low-lying nations facing sea-level rise, to villages located on melting permafrost, to drought-plagued lands, these are some of the more dramatic examples of American Indian tribes that are taking a direct hit from extreme weather events likely linked to climate change. Although several tribes, including some on this list, are already adapting or laying out plans for the inevitable, this list highlights those that are seeing dramatic, tangible changes.

RELATED:  8 Tribes That Are Way Ahead of the Climate-Adaptation Curve

1. Hoh Tribe

The Hoh road to the beach has washed out, and the ocean has destroyed the homes that once lined their beach. In 2009, Hog tribal officials told a U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., that they face constant threats from floods and the Hoh River.

RELATED: Hoh Indians Head for Higher Ground

2. Quinault Indian Nation

Seaside villages up and down the Pacific coast are at risk, from rising sea levels. Some stark evidence of this came with the recent state of emergency declared by the Quinault Indian Nation. Earlier this year, its headquarters in Taholah faced an increasingly dangerous situation with sea level rise and intensified storms. The situation came to a head with the breach of a sea wall that caused serious damage.

RELATED: Quinault Nation Declares State of Emergency After Taholah Seawall Breach

Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp has since traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby for more flood protection.

RELATED: Quinault President Fawn Sharp Heads to D.C. to Lobby for Flood Protections

Climate Change Is Real, Let’s Fight It Together

3. Quileute Tribe

The Quileute are squeezed on a sliver of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Olympic National Forest. Rising sea levels and a river’s changing course through the reservation has exacerbated not only fears of flooding, but also of what could happen if an earthquake occurred powerful enough to wreak the damage that was seen in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011. Just a couple of years ago a tribal school attended by 80 children was just a foot above sea level. A powerful storm surge threw car-sized wood trunks into their schoolyard. But now the Quileute are relocating an entire village.

RELATED: Haida Gwaii Quake Brings Home the Importance of Quileute Relocation Legislation

Quileute Is Moving to Higher Ground


You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
The government is releasing a new climate-change study today and it promises more of the same. I was particularly concerned with the rising temperatures in the SW as we already see 100+ temperatures in the summer. ___________________________________________________________-- Increasing temperatures is going to separate the Natives from the retirees here in the southwest. Hopefully, the majority will move back to where ever they came from. People once moved here for their health as our dry climate was thought to be beneficial to those who suffered arthritis - this will no longer be the case as a study of breathable air in New Mexico has put us on the list for the highest particulate matter - a dangerous situation for those with asthma, emphysema, etc.