Sea-level rise and inland flooding driven by climate change threaten the health, economic development, and social stability of Native American Tribes and Indigenous Nations. Further, loss of traditional lands threatens the cultural practices and ties to heritage that provide ontological grounding for many Indigenous Peoples. While the Federal Trust Doctrine implies a responsibility for federal policy to aid Tribes by compensating them for impacts of sea-level rise, there is no legislation securing compensation for Indigenous Nations not recognized as Tribes. Due to the incommensurable nature of the damage to Native American and Indigenous communities who lose their lands to sea-level rise, any processes of compensation must transcend relocation measures and monetary transactions. Further, to combat aid programming that perpetuates the social, legal, and cultural disenfranchisement of Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples, legislation for compensation must endorse and empower Tribes’ and Nations’ autonomy by meaningfully including their insights. This study records the perspectives of members of the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes and Gullah/Geechee Nation on climate change in the Southeastern U.S., specifically, sea-level rise washing out ancestral lands. This study’s ultimate purpose is to understand how Tribe and Nation members perceive the response and responsibility of the U.S. government in these situations. This study also presents a legal/political analysis of climate justice in these contexts, an exploration of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions as a mechanism for climate justice, and culminates in a policy proposal regarding climate justice for Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Jacques, Peter J.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Undergraduate Studies


Interdisciplinary Studies Program

Degree Program

Interdisciplinary Studies



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date