November 06, 2015

Kilmer Bill to Help Coastal Tribes Facing Severe Weather Threats Gains Momentum with Hearing in Key Committee

Washington D.C. – Representative Derek Kilmer’s (WA-06) bill to support Native American tribes living in coastal areas and facing severe threats from weather received a hearing in the House Committee on Natural Resources this week. Kilmer testified in support of his bill during the hearing. Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation, joined Kilmer in appearing before the committee to highlight the bill’s importance to coastal tribes. 

The legislation, entitled the Tribal Coastal Resiliency Act, would expand the Coastal Zone Management Act to provide the necessary tools tribes need to protect their people and landmarks from changing landscapes and weather events. 

In her testimony Sharp detailed how recent weather events have threatened the safety of her village and their ability to exercise treaty rights. A transcript of Sharp’s testimony can be found here.

Cosponsors of the bill include Chairman Don Young (AK-At Large) and Ranking Member Raul Ruiz (CA-36) of the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs. A video of their remarks can be found here

Coastal tribes are increasingly confronting persistent flooding, mold damage, tsunami threats, and erosion. Washington state has over 3,000 miles of marine coastline, on which many reservations or fishing grounds are located. To date, tribes such as the Quileute Nation village of La Push, the Hoh Tribe, and the Quinault Indian Nation have begun the process of moving to higher ground.

“Imagine standing in front of a childcare center where little kids get early learning opportunities,” said Kilmer. “Where persistent flooding is a reality. Where the threat of tsunami is a reality for these kids. That’s why this legislation is so important. This bill will provide direct access to much needed resources for tribes to enhance their coastal resiliency and keep their people and way of life out of harm’s way.”

Kilmer’s bill would expand access to grants so that these tribes can take preventive measures to ensure the safety of their members and protect their facilities before an emergency. It is supported by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.