AP Photo/Diana Haecker
Nathan Weyiouanna's abandoned house at the west end of Shishmaref, Alaska, December 8, 2006, sits on the beach after sliding off during a fall storm in 2005.

Alaska Native Villages Receive $8 Million for Climate Change as Jewell Visits


Kivalina, Alaska and other Native villages affected by climate change were on the radar of U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell this week as she toured and promised aid.

"Alaska Native communities are on the front line of a changing climate and live with very real impacts on infrastructure, economic development, personal safety and food security," said Jewell in a statement after visiting Kotzebue and Kivalina, two hard-hit communities on the coast, at the invitation of the Alaska Federation of Natives. "The Administration remains fully committed to working with local leaders to build more resilient communities and protect the traditions that are central to Alaska Natives' cultures and identities."

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President Barack Obama has committed to helping Alaska Native leaders “build strong, prosperous and resilient communities,” the U.S. Department of the Interior said in its statement. Interior also announced it will make $8 million available for projects promoting climate change adaptation as well as assisting in ocean and coastal planning. The measure is part of the administration’s Tribal Climate Resilience Program and builds on previous aid geared specifically toward tribes.

RELATED: Obama Allocates $10 Million for Tribal Climate Change Adaptation

“No one is impacted by climate change more than Native communities in Alaska, but we have also seen serious problems developing for tribal communities across the West and on both coasts. We must act to help protect these communities,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn in a statement from Interior announcing the new funding. “The cultural and economic needs of tribes are tied to the land and protecting that land is a critical component of advancing tribal sovereignty and self-determination.”

Also on hand were state and oil industry officials to discuss recent federal moves to limit the development of federal lands and waters for oil and gas development, according to Alaska Dispatch News.

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