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Local News

Feds set aside $466M for tribes to combat climate change impacts

Credit: iStock

by Laina G. Stebbins, Michigan Advance
April 15, 2022

A new funding opportunity is now available for tribal communities facing the impacts of climate change, with the U.S. Department of the Interior announcing this week that $466 million is being set aside for tribes who wish to become more climate resilient.

Indigenous peoples are often the first to bear the brunt of climate change consequences, studies have shown.  Federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations can now submit proposals to request funds for projects that address:

  • Tribal climate resilience planning and strategy implementation
  • Ocean and coastal management planning
  • Community-driven relocation and protect-in-place activities
  • Internships and youth engagement

The allotment announced Monday is being made available as part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Tribal Climate Resilience Program. It uses $24.5 million from Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations and $21.7 million from the federal bipartisan infrastructure law.

“Funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is essential to advancing the all-of-government approach to supporting and empowering Tribal communities as they simultaneously face environmental impacts to physical, cultural and subsistence-based infrastructure,” said Bryan Newland, assistant secretary for Indian Affairs and former president of the Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan.

“This, as some communities are tragically having to relocate to higher ground. I am proud to begin implementing this piece of this historic law so that we can deliver meaningful results for Tribal Communities.”

The total of $466 million provided to the BIA over five years includes $216 million for climate resilience programs.  That breaks down into:

  • $130 million for community relocation
  • $86 million for tribal climate resilience and adaptation projects
  • $43.2 million to be available to spend annually for five years

“As the effects of climate change continue to intensify, Indigenous communities are facing unique climate-related challenges that pose existential threats to Tribal economies, infrastructure, lives and livelihoods,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna.

“Coastal communities are facing flooding, erosion, permafrost subsidence, sea level rise, and storm surges, while inland communities are facing worsening drought and extreme heat. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s historic investments in Tribal communities will help bolster community resilience, replace aging infrastructure, and provide support needed for climate-related community-driven relocation and adaptation,” Haaland continued. An informational webinar on the funding opportunity, hosted by the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals Tribes and Climate Change Program, will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. April 25.

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

Laina G. Stebbins is a contributor for the Michigan Advance, where this story first appeared.