Native communities across North America face heart-wrenching choices over whether to relocate in the face of mounting climate-driven risks, or remain in locations to which their families have been tied for hundreds of years, Indian Country Today reports. The Quileute Tribe have harvested food from the sea off the coast of what is now northwest Washington for centuries, but now severe winter storms flood their school with heavy debris multiple times a year, punctuated by “all the other 100-year storms that are happening at a pace that’s never been experienced,” Susan Devine, project manager of the Quileute Tribe’s Move to Higher Ground/Tribal School Project, said. Forty miles south, the Quinault Nation has already begun relocating homes and critical facilities under threat from landslides and coastal erosion.
“Permafrost is melting, villages are sinking in the tundra. A couple of years ago, because of the extreme heat, there were dead salmon floating down on the river. That was sad to see on the Kuskokwim River,” said Mike Williams Sr, Yup’ik, chief of the Akiak Native Community. “The wildlife – everything – is being impacted [by climate change]. We’re at ground zero.” (Indian Country Today)