Midwestern Floods Threaten Indigenous Communities at Forefront of Climate Crisis

As Nebraska and the U.S. Midwest recover from devastating climate change-fueled floods, we speak with Lakota historian Nick Estes on how two centuries of indigenous resistance created the movement proclaiming “Water is life.” Estes’s new book is titled Our History Is the Future. He is a co-founder of the indigenous resistance group The Red Nation and a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. While the Southern Hemisphere faces its worst tropical cyclone on record, states across the Midwestern United States are continuing to recover from unprecedented flooding this week that devastated communities in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and particularly Nebraska. Warming temperatures, snow melt and heavy rainfall led to a flash flood that overwhelmed the Missouri River. The rising waters breached levees, killing at least four people, destroying or damaging thousands of homes.

Much of the news about the flooding has focused its impact on farmers. But the climate-changed fueled weather has also hit Native American communities hard, with four tribal nations in Nebraska declaring a state of emergency. This is Larry Wright Jr., chair of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, speaking last week.

LARRY WRIGHT JR: Today I have declared a state of emergency for the Ponca Tribe in Nebraska in our territory, as it relates to our homeland, in Niobrara, as well as our communities in Norfolk and Sioux City. And we’ll continue to monitor the situation, as we move forward, with the flooding.

AMY GOODMAN: Scientists warn that more flooding is on the way as climate change-fueled extreme weather patterns around the planet. Santee Sioux Chairman Roger Trudell, whose tribe faced unprecedented flooding in Nebraska, told Earther, quote, “I’m just sorry that our national leaders, the people with the power to do something about it, just put their head in the sand and pretend that there’s no such thing as climate change or global warming or anything when…

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