This week, the House Appropriations Committee advanced critical funding that has been championed by U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) to support tribal relocation efforts in Western Washington. The House fiscal year 2022 appropriations bills advanced by the Committee included $1,650,000 in federal funding for the Hoh Tribe’s relocation development project and $1,479,355 in federal funding for the Quileute Tribe’s Move to Higher Ground water system improvement project.
The funding for the Hoh Tribe, which was included in the House Appropriations Homeland Security spending bill that passed out of the Subcommittee, aims to help the Tribe build out essential physical and electrical infrastructure to each commercial, governmental, and residential lot in the Upper Highlands. It also aims to connect water and sewer lines to the existing reservation system as the Tribe relocates to escape the imminent dangers of coastal flooding.
The funding for the Quileute Tribe, which was included in the House Appropriations Interior & Environment spending bill that passed out of the full Committee, aims to help the Tribe finish the development of a reliable water source as they seek to relocate critical community facilities and future housing to the safety of lands above the reach of tsunami waves and flood waters.
Rep. Kilmer led the effort to secure funding for both projects through the House Appropriations Committee’s Community Project Funding process.
“Climate change and rising sea levels are threatening coastal communities across our region – including the homelands of the Quileute Tribe and Hoh Tribe,” said Rep. Kilmer. “The federal government has an obligation to fulfill its trust and treaty responsibilities. It’s a big deal that this funding for the Quileute Tribe and the Hoh Tribe has cleared this important hurdle. I’ll keep pushing to ensure these tribal communities get the support they need as they seek to move to higher ground and keep their people out of harm’s way.”
“On behalf of the Tribe, I would like to thank Congressman Kilmer and his dedicated staff for their work in getting this funding request included in the Homeland Security appropriations bill. This funding will allow the Tribe to finally take a big step forward in our ongoing battle to reallocate our community to safer, higher ground,” Hoh Chairwoman Dawn Gomez. “Tribes, especially those on the coast, are living with the impacts of climate change every day. The stronger storms, increased erosion, and rising temperatures we see at Hoh should serve as a call to the nation to do the real work needed to address the climate crisis.”
“We are appreciative of Representative Kilmer’s continued support of our urgent need to “Move to Higher Ground” and making the safety of the Quileute people and our neighbors in his district a priority,” said Quileute Tribal Council Chairman Douglas Woodruff Jr.
The Hoh Tribe has lived on the Olympic Peninsula since time immemorial. The Tribe’s culture and community are deeply connected to the Hoh River and their ancestral homelands. Since the passage of the Hoh Indian Tribe Safe Homelands Act in 2010, the Tribe has been working to relocate to the higher ground that the Act secured to ensure public safety and community preservation in the face of the devastating impacts of climate change. Relocating housing and essential government operations to higher ground will ensure the continuation of the Hoh people for generations to come. This FEMA grant will allow the Tribe to construct the utilities and infrastructure necessary for relocation.
The Quileute Tribe in La Push, Washington, trace their ancestry to the Northwest Coast since time immemorial. In 2012, President Obama signed legislation returning hundreds of acres of Olympic National Park land to the Tribe. This legislation provides lineage protection by allowing the tribe to move its people to higher ground from impending tsunamis and continue to preserve their culture, their heritage, and their livelihood. More information on the Move to Higher Ground can be found here.