Netse Mot: Support Lummi Nation and Xw’ullemy (the Salish Sea)
2nd Call for Support: Bring Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut Home!
JUUstice Washington has signed . . .
Board of Trustees of the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship has signed . . .
Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship’s Social and Environmental Justice Committee has signed . . .
We are being called upon as groups and organizations to support the effort to bring Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut home to the Pacific Northwest. Specifically, we are being asked to sign a request to Governor’s Inslee (WA) and Brown (OR) and B.C. Premier John Horgan to sign a proclamation to support the efforts to bring her home. This is different than the petition to Miami Seaquarim for individuals that went out earlier.
Please sign by 24 May 2021 as a group or organization. The desired goal is present it to the Governors in June during Orca Action Month for signing. Here’s the link to the form to be signed by your group, congregation or organization. The text of that proclamation is listed below.
I realize that many of us have specific procedures and protocols that we are required to adhere to, especially as faith-based congregations and we may not be able to achieve congregational resolutions by the 24 May deadline. Please try where you are able to do so. If you are not able to come forward with a full congregational resolution or organizational support, then by all means, request that your various racial, Indigenous-related and/or environmental justice teams and Indigenous teams to sign on as their respective groups.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story of Skk’aliCh’el-tenaut, here’s brief synopsis.
In 1970, a number of young Southern Resident Orca relations were violently captured from their native Salish Sea waters and sold to aquariums. Only one of these qwe’lhol’mechen survives to this day. Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut, who has also been called “Tokitae” and “Lolita” in captivity, remains the star attraction of Miami Seaquarium, where she is held in the world’s smallest orca tank, subjected to relentless sun and extreme social isolation.
The Southern Resident Orcas of the Salish Sea are culturally and spiritually significant to the Coast Salish peoples whose territories overlap with that of the orcas. In particular, the Lhaq’temish people of Lummi Nation consider these orcas to be family. The Lummi term for orcas is qwe’lhol’mechen, meaning “the people under water,” and ancestral teachings hold that there are kinship bonds between the Lhaq’temish and orca peoples.
In 2017, Lummi Nation was called to work to bring Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut home. In 2019, Lummi elders Squil-le-he-le (Raynell Morris) and Tah-Mahs (Ellie Kinley) invoked their legal, cultural, and spiritual rights in calling for her release and homecoming, and announcing their intent to sue on the grounds of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) should negotiations not be successful. They are represented by Earth Law Center on the legal front, and are working with the Whale Sanctuary Project on the operational front. There is now a comprehensive plan that details how to safely and responsibly bring Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut out of captivity and back home to the Salish Sea. The plan is grounded and guided by Lummi culture and oversight, and is a living document that will change according to Sk’aliCh’elh- tenaut’s needs as they change over time. The ongoing health and well-being of Sk’aliCh’elh- tenaut, her Southern Resident Orca family, and the Salish Sea are centered in this plan.
Other background resources are:
Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut, Sacred Sea: for a living Salish Sea at sacredsea.org
Here’s a heart-wrenching and warming explanatory video: https://vimeo.com/266726774
https://juustwa.org/program-areas/issues/first-american-indian-nations/our-work/totem-pole-journeys/tokitae/ and https://juustwa.org/program-areas/issues/first-american-indian-nations/our-work/totem-pole-journeys/tokitae/tokitae-totem-pole-returns-home/
You can also google “Tokitae” and view other websites, articles and videos regarding Lummi Nation’s work to bring her home.