Quileute Tsunami Protection Bill Approved by Committee

The Quileute Nation had a special announcement when it took the floor for protocol during the 2011 Canoe Journey/Paddle to Swinomish.

SB 636, the Quileute Tsunami and Flood Protection bill, was approved by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs July 28. Quileute Chairwoman Bonita Cleveland was in Washington, D.C. for the vote.

The bill moves on to the full Senate and then the House for approval. You can track the bill at www.govtrack.us.

Quileute officials say half of their reservation lies in a floodplain; Quileute’s administrative offices, senior center, school and numerous homes are a mere 15 feet above sea level and at risk of tsunami and flooding from storms.

SB 636 would transfer 772 acres of Olympic National Park land to Quileute, providing higher ground for homes and vital public services; the National Park land is within Quileute’s historical territory. The transfer would also resolve a 50-year boundary dispute with the national park, including land lost due to changes in the Quileute River’s course.

“There have been three minor earthquakes in our area in the last five days,” Cleveland said in an announcement released after the Senate committee’s vote. “Mother Earth is communicating with us and we should heed her warnings as a message that we must act now to move our people to safety. My heart has been heavy with concern for my people, but today there is a ray of hope on the horizon.

“We are so grateful to Senator Cantwell and the committee for their recognition of the importance of moving the Quileute lower village to higher ground.”

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