Climate Change Is Threatening Native Tribal Land in Washington State
The Quileute tribe's village in La Push, Washington, is home to about 400 people. The Pacific Ocean's rising waters now threaten it due to climate change.
Jaedyn Black is a student at the Quileute Tribal School on the western edge of the Olympic Peninsula.
"Water is a big part of us," she said. "We usually go sit at the point and usually by that tree. And Elizabeth, she sings songs at the point, and it helps a lot of people."
This tree she mentioned is just barely holding on, she told CBS News. "That's sad. That tree's been here a long time."
Storms here are getting more severe, pushing dangerous debris into town and consuming the tribe's land.
"It's literally taking parts of the Quileute tribe's land and washing it out to the ocean," Alice Ryan, a science teacher, adds.
The tribe has lost land before. It once called vast swaths of the Olympic peninsula home until the late 1800s when the U.S. government confined it to just one square mile against the Pacific. The land is prone to flooding and tsunamis.
With climate change arriving at their door, students practice evacuating and fleeing to higher ground. The tribe is building a new school on top of the hill, far away from those rising ocean waters.
Congress gave permission to use national park land near the new school for a new tribal village if the Quileute have to eventually abandon dozens of homes near the coast. And it's a similar fate for tribes from Alaska to Florida who now find themselves forced to relocate.
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