Climate change is quickly altering the shape of the Northwest — its ecosystems, its coastlines and the ways of life of the humans who live on it. This is perhaps felt most acutely by several tribes on the Pacific Coast, where declining salmon stocks and an ocean in revolt are forcing them to confront the reality of moving from the place they’ve inhabited since time immemorial.
In the Quinault Indian Nation, plans are underway for relocating the villages of Taholah and Queets, where over a thousand people face increased tsunami risk as the sea rises inch by inch, year by year. Severe floods already breach the sea walls meant to protect Taholah, and the mouth of the Queets River has transformed into a funnel for surging waves.
But this existential threat overlaps a resurgence in Quinault culture, language and leadership. As the Quinault spread their message of climate resiliency, they also continue to paddle the canoes of their ancestors into the sea that both sustains and threatens them.