Thank Swinomish Tribe for Being Climate Champions

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Target: Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

Goal: Thank the Swinomish Tribe for taking concret steps to address the threat of climate change.

Climate change could be considered the greatest challenge facing the world today. Despite this, governments struggle to agree upon, let alone act on, any concrete steps to address the issue. The Swinomish Tribe has inspired hope by moving forward with a dynamic plan to ensure a brighter future.

Having lived on the coast of Washington’s Salish Sea for thousands of years, the Swinomish people now find their small island community threatened by rising sea levels. Two oil refineries mark the horizon nearby. With their first Climate Change Initiative in 2008, the Tribe worked to study the impacts of climate change and how they could affect their resources, assets, and people. They partnered with the University of Washington, and received funding from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Native Americans to assist with their efforts.

In late 2010, the tribe’s Climate Adaptation Action Plan was published. The document is far more than just research and recommendations. It asks the tough questions and outlines realistic strategies, succeeding where many governments have failed. To this day, many world leaders struggle to address climate change, making this Action Plan more relevant than ever. Swinomish Tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby was elected President of the National Council of American Indians in October, 2013, in part because of his dedication to this issue. Thank the Swinomish people  for their ongoing climate stewardship, and for showing the world that change is not only possible–it is necessary.


Dear Swinomish Indian Tribal Community,

While many world leaders bicker about whether or not to address climate change, the Swinomish Tribe has moved forward with a Climate Adaptation Action Plan to protect the community’s resources and people. It has been an ambitious project, and one which is still underway. But while many governments have failed to look comprehensively at the realities of climate change or to move forward with solutions, you have succeeded.

Because of the connections you maintain to your traditional way of life, you stand witness to changes in sea levels, shellfish populations, and other indicators that many world leaders have dismissed. While on one hand the Climate Adaptation Action Plan is specific to the challenges facing your community, governments and citizens of the world would do well to heed its lessons. The project excels in examining potential impacts, and in making and assessing recommendations. This is not a document meant to be applauded and then gather dust on a shelf; it is a living commitment to the sustainability of your way of life.

To look climate change in the face takes courage. Thank you for serving as an example of what communities can accomplish when they ask the hard questions and work together to create solutions.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Patte David via Wikimedia Commons

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