Climatic Change

, Volume 120, Issue 3, pp 601–614 | Cite as

The impact of climate change on tribal communities in the US: displacement, relocation, and human rights

  • Julie Koppel MaldonadoEmail author
  • Christine Shearer
  • Robin Bronen
  • Kristina Peterson
  • Heather Lazrus


Tribal communities in the United States, particularly in coastal areas, are being forced to relocate due to accelerated rates of sea level rise, land erosion, and/or permafrost thaw brought on by climate change. Forced relocation and inadequate governance mechanisms and budgets to address climate change and support adaptation strategies may cause loss of community and culture, health impacts, and economic decline, further exacerbating tribal impoverishment and injustice. Sovereign tribal communities around the US, however, are using creative strategies to counter these losses. Taking a human rights approach, this article looks at communities’ advocacy efforts and strategies in dealing with climate change, displacement, and relocation. Case studies of Coastal Alaska and Louisiana are included to consider how communities are shaping their own relocation efforts in line with their cultural practices and values. The article concludes with recommendations on steps for moving forward toward community-led and government-supported resettlement programs.


Climate Change Impact Extreme Weather Event Army Corps Federal Emergency Management Agency Tribal Community 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie Koppel Maldonado
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christine Shearer
    • 2
  • Robin Bronen
    • 3
  • Kristina Peterson
    • 4
  • Heather Lazrus
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of California at Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  3. 3.Alaska Institute for JusticeUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  4. 4.Center for Hazards, Assessment and Response TechnologyUniversity of New OrleansNew OrleansUSA
  5. 5.NCAR Earth System Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA

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