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Puyallup Tribe of Indians formally declares climate emergency

Members of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians gather alongside students at Chief Leschi Schools for climate emergency vote.
Courtesy of Puyallup Tribe
Members of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians' Governing Council gather alongside students at Chief Leschi Schools for the climate emergency vote.

The governing council of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians has approved a resolution declaring a climate emergency. The vote took place at a special meeting held during an assembly at Chief Leschi Schools, with all grades of the schools gathered around.

Tribal Council member Annette Bryan says the Puyallup formally recognized climate change and began working on adaptation plans in 2016. But this goes further.

“What’s different about it is this is a law. This resolution now becomes a law of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, all the entities of the government,” Bryan said. “This is moving us forward into action, not just words in a report.”

The resolution outlines what it calls "appropriate steps" to keep the increase in global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius. It sets a goal of transitioning off fossil fuels by 2035. And, unlike Tacoma's resolution, it does seek to prohibit new or expanded fossil fuel infrastructure.

The Puyallup is believed to be the first tribe in the U.S. to declare a climate emergency.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to