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Tribes Trek to D.C. to Offer Climate Change Perspective

November 5. 2009

HELENA, Mont. - Tribal lands are among some of the areas most affected by global climate change, and those lands are also some of the richest in renewable energy resources. Those are two points being made as tribal leaders from around the country meet at the White House to share their perspectives on climate change with federal officials.

Montana State Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy (D), Vice Chairman of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, is one of those attending the briefings. He says tribes want to help with clean energy solutions.

"There are areas of expertise that we bring to the table, but when you have federal laws and federal rules that come into effect here, we're never at the table to help guide those rules and policy."

Windy Boy says tribal lands in Montana are ripe for biofuels and wind, yet most of the development incentives being offered and considered in the federal clean energy bill before the Congress do not benefit most tribes.

Mike Williams, chair of the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, says rapidly-changing climate issues have landed on the front doorsteps of many of his state's tribes and indigenous people.

"Many of the communities are falling into the sea. We have no support, in most cases, to help these communities move to other places."

Little attention is being paid to the crisis, he says, but he hopes to change that.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT