Funding available for tribes to combat climate-related crises

By: - August 3, 2023 4:00 am

The program has $120 million in funding available to support Indigenous communities dealing with the impacts of the climate crisis. (Getty Images)

Tribal Nations whose homelands face severe climate-related environmental threats may find some relief as part of the Tribal Climate Resilience Program, which provides annual funding to tribes and tribal organizations working to address climate-related crises within their communities.

“Devastating storms, increased drought and rapid sea-level rise disproportionately impact Indigenous communities,” Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement. “Helping these communities remain on their homelands in the midst of these challenges is one of the most important climate-related investments we could make in Indian Country.”

The program has $120 million in funding available to support Indigenous communities dealing with the impacts of the climate crisis. This is the largest amount of annual funding made available for tribes and tribal organizations in the history of the Tribal Climate Resilience Program, according to the Department of Interior.

“This funding provides Tribes with the resources they need to develop and implement proactive strategies for their communities to become more resilient and effective at things like protecting homes and infrastructure, and if necessary, to relocate to safer ground,” Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said in a statement.

Tribes and tribal organizations that receive funding from the program could use the funds to proactively plan to adapt to these threats and safely relocate critical community infrastructure.

Funding is made available through President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda. It is part of a nearly $440 million investment for tribal climate resilience programs achieved through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and annual appropriations.

“Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are making transformational commitments to assist Tribal communities to plan for and implement climate resilience measures, upholding our trust and treaty responsibilities, and safeguarding these places for generations to come,” Haaland said.

According to the Department of Interior, the $120 million in funding breakdown includes $23 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, $72 million from the Inflation Reduction Act, and $25 million from the fiscal year 2023 annual appropriation.

“This investment is historic and reflects the Administration’s commitment to fulfilling the trust responsibility to protect the ability of Tribes to exist in their homelands in the face of a changing climate,” Newland said.

Since 2011, the program has distributed over 900 awards totaling more than $110 million.

In 2022, Arizona’s tribes saw some funding when one tribe and two tribal organizations were awarded funds ranging from $50,000 to nearly $400,000.

One of the projects awarded came from the White Mountain Apache Tribe, which received over $143,000 to help implement Tribal Climate Resilience training and workshops within their community.

Their project plan included improving their capacity to enhance climate change monitoring and to devise climate change adaptation strategies developed with input from the tribal community and stakeholders.

Federally-recognized Tribal Nations and authorized tribal organizations can apply for funding through the Tribal Climate Resilience Program, which supports planning and implementation projects.

The projects can include climate adaptation planning, drought measures, wildland fire mitigation, community-driven relocation, managed retreat, protect-in-place efforts, and ocean and coastal management.

For more information about the application process, visit the BIA website on the Tribal Climate Resilience Program.

Arizona Mirror first published this story. It is republished here with permission.

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Shondiin Silversmith, AZ Mirror
Shondiin Silversmith, AZ Mirror

Shondiin Silversmith is an award-winning Native journalist based on the Navajo Nation. Silversmith has covered Indigenous communities for more than 10 years, and covers Arizona's 22 federally recognized sovereign tribal nations, as well as national and international Indigenous issues. Her digital, print and audio stories have been published by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic, Navajo Times, The GroundTruth Project and PRX's "The World." Silversmith earned her master's degree in journalism and mass communication in Boston before moving back to Arizona to continue reporting stories on Indigenous communities. She is a member of the Native American Journalist Association and has made it a priority in her career to advocate, pitch and develop stories surrounding Indigenous communities in the newsrooms she works in.