Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Pacific Northwest Indian Tribe at Risk of a Tsunami

The Pacific Northwest Indian Quileute Tribe has been locked on a one-square-mile reservation surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and Olympic National Park in Washington state since 1952. Tribal children attending Quileute Tribal School, Head Start Center, and Day Care Center are at risk from a possible tsunami due to the location. With the Pacific Northwest Indian tribe's schools and tribal office in the highest tsunami danger zones, and with no higher lands on which to build, everyone there is worried. "Last year, we saw what a terrible thing a tsunami can be," Chairman Russell Woodruff said. "We have laid out evacuation routes and we have drills, but every one of us worries about what will happen to the over 50 children in the school when this happens."

The Quileute School recently had a traditional memorial ceremony for children killed in 2005's Asian tsunami. They formed a traditional circle, and had drumming as well as singing. The names of the countries devistated by the tsunami were read. Following the ceremony, students took part in an evacuation drill. As warning sirens were sounded, the children from the tribal school, daycare and Head Start were taken in school buses to a tribal building on ground high enough to survive an earthquake as well as a tsunami. Other tribal members also left their homes and workplaces to evacuate to higher ground. Tribal members have only 15 minutes to reach safety in the event of an earthquake or tsunami.

To see some of the magnificent artwork from this region, see Pacific Northwest Indian Art.

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