In addition to funding for local levees, Representative Derek Kilmer announced that the recently passed omnibus spending bill out of the federal government included funds to help the Quinault Indian Nation.
The funds would be used to continue efforts to move Taholah from the lower to upper village locations.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the funding bill that featured 10 projects championed by Representative Kilmer. One of those projects supports tribal relocation efforts in Western Washington.
The twelve-bill government funding package, which passed the House with bipartisan support, included $500,000 for the Quinault Indian Nation’s relocation development project, $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.
“Climate change and rising sea levels are threatening coastal communities across our region – including the homelands of several of our region’s tribes,” said Rep. Kilmer. “The federal government has an obligation to fulfill its trust and treaty responsibilities and to make sure that people aren’t put at risk. It’s a big deal that this funding for the Quinault Indian Nation, the Quileute Tribe, and the Hoh Tribe, has passed the House. 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.”
The funding for the Quinault Indian Nation aims to help the Tribe build out and develop infrastructure for the Taholah Village Relocation project – a neighborhood project above the tsunami zone expected to serve approximately 70 families. The infrastructure would help the tribe build streets, sewer, water, and storm water, as well as power utilities. The infrastructure would also serve a future school site and water tank site.
“Since time immemorial the Quinault people have lived and thrived in the Taholah Village which is along the Quinault River and the Pacific Ocean,” said Guy Capoeman, President of the Quinault Indian Nation. “However, because of the threat of increased storm surge, continued riverine flooding due to climate change and threat from a tsunami, the Quinault Indian Nation has made the difficult decision to relocate the Taholah Village to higher ground for the safety of our citizens. The funding included in the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus Appropriations bill for this project will help ensure the relocation process continues in a timely and safe manner. I want to thank Congressman Derek Kilmer for ensuring the funding for this important project was included in the final FY 2022 omnibus Appropriations bill.”
The funding for the Hoh Tribe 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 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.
The legislation is expected to be considered by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Biden in the coming days.
Rep. Kilmer led the effort to secure funding for all three projects through the House Appropriations Committee’s Community Project Funding process.
Kilmer shared that the Quinault Indian Nation has had models prepared by the Washington Department of Natural Resources that show a potential of tsunami inundation of 40-50 feet in depth in most of the Lower Village of Taholah, well above the elevation of the tallest building in the village.
A tsunami event at the Village of Taholah would be catastrophic for the tribe, including a significant loss of life and the destruction of infrastructure, which would compromise Quinault Indian Nation government operations indefinitely.
Approximately 650 residents live within the tsunami zone in the Taholah Village and important Quinault social and cultural institutions are located in the tsunami inundation zone and flood prone area.
In 2012, the Quinault Indian Nation determined through multiple public processes, including a General Council resolution (a vote taken by the entire Tribe), that enabling the movement of residents, businesses, and institutions from the lower village of Taholah to a new Upper Village Relocation Area was the only solution to the threats posed by the effects of climate change and rising sea levels.