New US climate report says land theft and colonization amplify the climate crisis for Indigenous peoples
Indigenous self-determination is a key climate solution — if the federal government can get behind it. The latest National Climate Assessment cites a 2021 study that concluded that Indigenous peoples in the United States lost 99 percent of their territories through colonization, and that the lands that they were forced to move to face higher wildfire risk and worse drought than their traditional homelands. According to the authors, Indigenous peoples across the continental U.S. and its island holdings hail from more than 700 tribes and communities, and while each community has a different relationship with the federal government, all share similar experiences of colonization through stolen land, cultural assimilation, and persistent marginalization. The report also detailed problems with the National Flood Insurance Program, a federal insurance program managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that helps homeowners insure against the risk of flooding, something that many insurance companies won’t cover. The program is supposed to help communities mitigate flood risk, but the report found that its implementation in Native communities has been flawed and ineffective.