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  • Writer's pictureRose High Bear

Recent Flooding in Lummi Country and the Native response

NOAA recently informed us about atmospheric rivers: “a strong atmospheric river can transport the amount of water equivalent to 7.5-15 times the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River and constitute 30-50% of the annual precipitation on the West Coast. While atmospheric rivers are not a new phenomenon, evidence suggests that climate change is making them longer, wider, and more frequent.” (footnote below) The increase in global temperatures is leading to an increase in evaporation of surface waters which fills the atmospheric rivers with even more water as we may have noticed.

Footnote: Espinoza, V., Waliser, D.E., Guan, B., Lavers, D.A., Ralph, F.M. (2018x, April 19). Global Analysis of Climate Change Projection Effects on Atmospheric Rivers. Geophysical Research Letters. Retrieved at

We continue to hear climate news from Indian Country and the amazing resiliency of our Indian people. I noticed a heartwarming account in this month’s Tribal College Journal (footnote) regarding a Lummi tribal member who experienced the “atmospheric river” that hit the Pacific Northwest in November, dumping an unbelievable amount of rain in a short amount of time up in NW Washington.

A Northwest Indian College student from the remote Lummi Nation needed to be at the hospital for a high-risk pregnancy-related appointment but was blocked by the high water. She managed to slip through the floodwater following some trucks and made it to her appointment but was terrified by the experience. In response to her emergency, the community stepped up to support her in multiple ways and demonstrated their care and attention for her for the duration of her pregnancy.

This remarkable story shows once again the deeper capacities and commitment of our Native community members to reach out and care for one another in times of need. It is another example of how, when we treat each other with care and attention, our community becomes more like a loving extended family with the capacity to bring healing and demonstrate the resilience we all need. She said in response, “For this reason, I lift my hands and say hy’shqe to the Lummi people and Northwest Indian College for their care and work to keep me and others safe.”

Although we may face multiple threats from today’s changing climate, we know that someone in our tiospaye (extended family) will be there to hold our hand through any hardship or fear. That’s resiliency!


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