A lone Quinault Indian digs for Razor Clams at the edge of the surf. The big ones he tosses into the net which he drags behind him. The little ones go back to the sea. The fisheries here are carefully managed to keep the traditional harvest sustainable. As Climate Change continues to increase ocean temperatures, toxic algal blooms and storms have become more common. When the surf is heavy, the tide can run quickly up on to the flats, making the clam harvest dangerous.
The Village of the Future
Charles Warsinske, Community Development and Planning Manager, walks along dirt paths and cleared brush that will one day soon be the streets and houses of the new village of Taholah, WA. In the face of rising tides and tsunami threat the Quinault Tribal Council voted proactively to move the village away from the coastline and to this raised bluff. We had to do it” says Charles, “going under water was not a matter of if, but when.”
Ancient Traditions in Changing Times
It is not yet dawn, but Mike Winkler, a Quinault Indian, has already been digging in the wet sand along the edge of the ocean for hours. He is looking for Razor Clams, a protein staple
that the Quinault Indian Nation have been harvesting from these coastal flats for over 10,000 years. Just last year the Tribal Council decided to permanently relocate the village of Taholah away from the coastline and the mouth of the Quinault River. The growing risk of inundation had become too great.
CHESAPEAKE BAY, MARYLAND
Patrick Donaway rides his dirt bike through the flooded streets of Smith Island (pop.267). Donaway is a newcomer on an island that can trace its heritage back to the English Colonists who settled here in the 17th Century. While flooding is commonplace and events like this hardly raise alarm (“It just comes in and goes out. We don’t worry.” says one resident), others note that the water steadily continues to rise and publicity is having an adverse effect on the local population and economy.
Keeping the Faith
"There are some things that can be controlled and alleviated and there are some things that are just beyond our control." Says Pastor Rick Edmund. "Will we be here in a 100 years? We feel pretty secure that we will be here a good while because a lot of people rely on their faith. Their faith that the good lord is going to keep people here as long as he wants to."
Francis “Hoss” Parks, a lifelong resident of Smith Island, Maryland, stands beside a raised walkway that he built to move between his house and the nearby water gauge that he monitors. “I’ve seen lots of flooding” he says, “Up to four feet or more through here. It’s been in my house. I sit here and watch it come in. I don’t leave. It ain’t no use to leave and then
come back to disaster”.