Isle de Jean Charles, home to the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw band of Native Americans, has lost 98 percent of its land since 1955. Its 99 remaining residents have been dubbed “America’s first climate refugees.”
And this isn’t a distant threat: At least 17 communities, most of which are Native American or Native Alaskan, are already in the process of climate-related relocations.
Yet despite its inevitability, there is no official framework to handle this displacement. There is no U.S. government agency, process, or funding dedicated to confronting this impending humanitarian crisis. In addition, building an entirely new town for Isle de Jean Charles has high logistical hurdles, and with a price tag of over $48 million to move 99 people, it remains unclear whether this can serve as a replicable model.