The Quileute people of La Push, Wash. may be best known for their role in the "Twilight" books, but they have lived off the page in the Pacific Northwest for centuries.
Because of their coastal location the Quileute make a good living off of the sea, where they have traditionally been fishermen and whalers.
"It's been a great quality of life since the time of our beginning here," says Quileute elder Chris Morganroth.
But while the Quileute used to migrate along the expansive coastline to adapt to changing weather conditions, this option is no longer available to them. In 1855 the Quileute signed a treaty with the federal government to give up most of their land in exchange for rights to fish off the coast. Now their village is just one square mile, preventing them from moving with the weather.
Now climate change and the rising waters of the ocean threaten even this land. Recently, flooding and erosion have destroyed vital hunting and fishing grounds, and homes in the low-lying areas of the reservation.
Additionally, local problems like abundant rainfall and melting glaciers contribute to rising global sea levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects sea levels to rise an average of 19 inches by the year 2100, which will leave coastal areas particularly vulnerable to storm surges, flooding and tsunamis.
All of this threatens both the Quileute's small plot of land and their way of life. However, the Quileute are not giving up. They recently won the right to 785 acres of land in neighboring Olympia National Park, and the community is currently figuring out how to best use the land.
This will hopefully allow the Quileute to continue their traditions for years to come.
"As the climate changes, as the environment changes, we have to change with it in order to survive as we lose that quality of life," - Chris Morganroth, Quileute elder.
1. What do you know about the weather of the Pacific Northwest?
2. What are some of the effects of global warming?
1. How else is global warming changing life for people around the globe?
2. If you were in the Quileute's position, how would you use the additional land they recently won?
3. What is U.S. policy towards Native American populations, and how might it hurt their traditional ways of life?
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