US to Boost Spending on Tribal Lands, Help Relocate Climate-Impacted Tribes

Photo credit: AP

The United States is increasing spending on Native American tribes in one of the biggest efforts ever to relocate communities that are facing an urgent threat of climate change. 

The White House announced that the Biden administration will give Native American tribes more say in managing federal and tribal lands as part of a plan that includes assistance for tribes whose land has been harmed by climate change.

The Biden administration is giving three tribes $75 million to move away from coastal areas or rivers. Two communities are in Alaska, and one is in Washington State. 

Each of the three communities will get $25 million to move their key buildings onto higher ground and away from rising waters, with the expectation that homes will follow. The federal government will give eight more tribes $5 million each to plan for relocation.

The project is funded by the Interior Department. 

The funding is a massive acknowledgment that a growing number of places around the United States can no longer be protected against changes brought by global warming. 

The effort is seen as making a blueprint for the federal government to help other communities across the U.S. move away from vulnerable areas. 

The measures were announced by President Joe Biden and other Cabinet officials at a two-day Tribal Nations Summit. 

Among the new actions are efforts to boost purchases of tribal energy and other goods and services, and to revitalize Native languages.

Relocating whole communities sometimes called managed retreat, is considered to possibly be the most aggressive form of adaptation to climate change. 

Despite the high initial cost, however, relocation may save money in the long run. By relocating, it reduces the amount of damage from future disasters, along with the cost of rebuilding after those disasters.

However, relocating is also disruptive. 

Another challenge is deciding which places to help first. 

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