Washington state has made significant commitments to and investments in the protection and recovery of these killer whales, their critical Salish Sea habitat, and their food web, which hinges on the availability of Chinook salmon. The terminal will threaten the progress made to date on recommendations of the Governor’s Orca Task Force and on state legislation that has ensued from its deliberations. Even ignoring the added risks of oil spills and ship strikes, there would still be a major increase in underwater noise levels from these massive container ships that will further limit the orcas’ ability to echolocate, communicate and hunt. Over 40 organizations and nearly 100,000* individuals have asked Governor Inslee to oppose the Roberts Bank terminal project, signing a petition addressed to him. And they have asked that if the project is approved in spite of their strong objections, he should insist that robust risk-mitigation measures — such as an emergency tug strategically located along the vessels’ path — be required to protect the orcas, salmon and Washington state environment. Read more here.
As currently planned, Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) would be built in the sub-tidal waters of the Fraser River delta adjacent to the Westshore coal terminal, on 437 acres of critical habitat for salmon and migratory birds. Once in existence, it would significantly increase the Port’s capacity for larger container ships and also induce more container-ship traffic through the trans-boundary waters of the Salish Sea — by up to 520 transits per year. The massive “Mega-Max” container ships that could call on this terminal typically carry 18 to 24 thousand containers. They can also carry much larger amounts of propulsion fuels, in some cases over 4 million gallons worth, which could dramatically increase the extent of an oil spill from a container-ship collision or grounding. Read more here.
Washington’s salmon are “teetering on the brink of extinction,” according to a new report. It says the state must change how it’s responding to climate change and the growing number of people in Washington. Washington’s State of Salmon in Watersheds report says time is running out for the Northwest’s iconic fish. The report shows a trend of warming waters and habitat degradation is causing trouble for its salmon runs. Ten of the 14 threatened or endangered salmon and steelhead runs in the state are not getting any better. Of those, five are “in crisis.” Read more here.
Have you ever wondered, Why were the minority neighborhoods in Texas the first to lose power during the recent power blackouts? Why are polluting industries and waste dumps always sited where Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) folks live? Why has the Covid pandemic been particularly devastating for the poor, marginalized BIPOC communities? And, yet, why have they been deprived of early vaccination? The list of injustices is never ending!
So, why do climate justice work in a UU church? Our faith calls us to build the Beloved Community that Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King dreamed of. We cannot build a Beloved Community when racism, oppression and discrimination is the custom of the land. Our principles call on us to uphold the inherent worth and dignity of all and to respect the interdependent web of all existence. And the proposed Eighth Principle calls us to accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions. Then, how can we not, as UUs, dedicate ourselves to finding justice for the most vulnerable who are least responsible for the continued destruction of our environment but are ignored time and time again. Indeed, the BIPOC are hardly ever at the table to represent their own interests!
In collaboration with the UU Ministry for Earth, we are privileged to the recent launch of a caucus for BIPOC UUs who are passionate about the intersections of racial, environmental and climate injustices.
Why a separate caucus for BIPOC? As we said above, we have long witnessed the disproportionate and disastrous impacts of climate change on communities of color. The BIPOC caucus will create a space for us to meet with others devoted to environmental and climate justice work, and also be a voice for us in the broader environmental and climate justice movement. It will allow us to form bonds with other BIPOC who fight not only racial and environmental injustices but are also the embodiment of living through a long history of injustice and cruelty.
Meetings of the group are open to everyone right now, irrespective of their racial identity, with time set aside for BIPOC and White caucusing. Starting this summer, the mutliracial group will meet approximately once a quarter, and the BIPOC caucus will meet roughly monthly.
We are grateful for the UUMFE for giving us a home as we begin this journey, and for offering time, energy and support. And, we thank all those who joined us for our first meeting and hope to see more folks attend the second session, on Thursday, March 18 at 5pm PT / 8pm EDT - you can find more information below in this newsletter. We pray that they keep coming back, that the caucus grows, and that we can engage in meaningful and spiritually fulfilling work. Amen.
In faith and solidarity,
Bring Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut Home!A sacred request from Squil-le-he-le (Raynell Morris) and Tah-Mahs (Ellie Kinley) "Our Lhaq'temish [Lummi] people have had a special relationship with our killer whales since time immemorial. We know them as qwe’lhol’mechen, which means “people under the water.” Our stories tell of intermarriage and kinship between our Lhaq'temish people and a local qwe’lhol’mechen clan we know as Sk’aliCh’elh. Fifty years ago, as our own children were being stolen and sent to boarding schools, one of the Sk’aliCh’elh children was stolen and sold to the Miami Seaquarium. We call this orca whale “Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut,” which means daughter of Sk’aliCh’elh. She is our Lhaq'temish daughter, too. She has been held in a small concrete tank and forced to perform for her food since 1970. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People recognizes and uphold our rights to our culture, our spirituality, our families. In order for our Lhaq'temish culture, spirituality, and family to be whole, we must bring Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut home. We are working with the world’s top scientists and experts on how to do this responsibly. We have a plan, but we do not yet have Miami Seaquarium’s agreement to release her into our care. We are asking all individuals to sign our Petition, as put forth by our partners at the Earth Law Center." Hy’shqe, Squil-le-he-le (Raynell Morris) Tah-Mahs (Ellie Kinley) Enrolled members of Lummi Nation Please pass this onto family, friends, allies and partners. Ask them to sign the petition. It is believed that an overwhelming show of support, Miami Seaquarium’s parent companies might do the right thing and allow the Lhaq'temish people to bring their relation home to the Salish Sea, where they and her orca family await her. For more information, check the links below: Links:
- Ceremonies for Ska’liCh’elh-tenaut Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Ceremonies-for-Skalichelh-tenaut-111624844000057
- SacredSea.org Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut page: https://sacredsea.org/skalichelhtenaut/
- Petition link: https://www.change.org/p/miami-seaquarium-free-endangered-orca-held-captive-at-miami-seaquarium-for-50-years
- SacredSea YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0qWShmGWtn3HPU-cpWj81Q
"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. UN Climate Change Chief Patricia Espinosa pointed out that the last 10 years had been the hottest decade in human history. The record rise in temperatures, for example in the Arctic winter and northern Siberia, and dramatic winter weather slamming the traditionally mild southern U.S., were being amplified by the now measurably slowing Gulf Stream in the Atlantic — something that could be irreversible. "It's time for all remaining Parties to step up, fulfill what they promised to do under the Paris Agreement and submit their NDCs as soon as possible," Espinosa said, adding "if this task was urgent before, it's crucial now." Read more here.
A mother orca grieves the death of her only minutes old baby in the Salish Sea in the summer of 2018. The world media becomes fixated. 4 years later she has a new baby boy, Phoenix. A landlocked girl from Ohio won’t let her dreams of the sea go unrealized. Be there as has her first encounter with an orca. Today she is an accomplished marine naturalist & creator & hosts one of the best podcasts on the Southern Residents: Breaching Extinction. A Vietnam war veteran discovers Indian Country, finding where things feel right, after years on a motorcycle discovering America. Meet an ally of The Lummi First nation who’s been witness & supporter in their fight to save the Qw'e lh'ol me chen.Listen here.
Something is wrong at Miami Seaquarium.. They have been keeping an orca who doesn’t belong to them for over 50 years. A produce salesman turned vegan activist fights for over a decade on the street corner in front of Miami Seaquarium, turning away thousands of cars. A new legal fight launches in 2020 headed by The Lummi Nation of the Pacific North West. Still: 19,785 days later Lolita the whale remains alone in the smallest tank in the world. Episode 1: TokitaeListen here.
In accordance with Innu customs and practices, the Alliance has granted the river nine rights: 1) the right to flow; 2) the right to respect for its cycles; 3) the right for its natural evolution to be protected and preserved; 4) the right to maintain its natural biodiversity; 5) the right to fulfil its essential functions within its ecosystem; 6) the right to maintain its integrity; 7) the right to be safe from pollution; 8) the right to regenerate and be restored; and perhaps most importantly, 9) the right to sue.
FOLLOWING PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S executive order to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, activists and organizers are escalating calls for similar actions to shutter other major pipelines. They are addressing projects like Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline, which run through and devastate Indigenous lands and lives, threatening water sources and our collective futures. Just this month, celebrities joined Indigenous leaders and environmentalists in urging the president to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline. While Biden’s action on Keystone XL and court rulings over Dakota Access constitute victories for the Indigenous-led climate movement, water protectors who stood on the front lines of these battles continue to face grave repression and punitive consequences from the government. Read more here.
It’s a conflict facing growing numbers of Native people along Line 3’s nearly 400-mile path. As it cuts across the Fond du Lac reservation, treaty lands of several other bands of Ojibwe and the headwaters of the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota, the project has brought not just jobs but controversy and discord into the most intimate spheres of spirituality, family and community. Read more here.
Five Democratic lawmakers on Friday encouraged President Joe Biden to order an immediate shutdown of the Dakota Access pipeline after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week delivered a victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe by ruling that DAPL is operating illegally. The three-judge panel upheld a lower court's ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it granted an easement for DAPL to cross a federal reservoir along the Missouri River, less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The court ordered a full environmental impact statement examining the threats posed by the oil pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as the Democrats' letter to Biden notes, "rightfully fears an oil spill could disproportionately affect their drinking water, as well as hunting and fishing rights." Read more here.
Few rivers define a region like the Columbia, where tribal scientists are making headway in bringing back its most important species: salmon.
The United States recognizes 574 tribal nations, which have roughly 2.6 million enrolled members. Based on treaties that many tribes signed when they ceded their land, the U.S. government has a legal trust responsibility to provide health care to tribal citizens. The federally funded Indian Health Service provides care on many reservations, while also distributing money to tribes that run their own health programs. Urban Indian Organizations provide care to the Native American populations in some cities. When tribes began preparing for the vaccine rollout, they were given the choice to receive their doses either from their state’s allotment or directly from the Indian Health Service. Many tribes that chose IHS have been pleased with the distribution so far, saying the centralized health care system has been more effective than the fragmented approach seen in many states. Some state governments, including those of Alaska and Washington, also have drawn praise for their vaccine coordination efforts with tribes. Read more here.
Colleen Echohawk launched a campaign Monday to lead Seattle as its mayor, running on a platform of transformation; rethinking justice, mental health and the city’s common purpose. Echohawk, Pawnee and Athabascan, is executive director of the Chief Seattle Club, a nonprofit that serves homeless Native Americans. Echohawk led the development of $100 million in affordable housing for Native Americans, non-Natives and veterans; improved access to health care and social services or her constituency; and is creating economic opportunities through a farm-to-table Indigenous foods program and a café/art gallery. If elected, the eighth and 18th largest cities in the U.S. would be led by mayors who are Indigenous: Todd Gloria, Tlingit, in San Diego, California (population 1.4 million); and Echohawk, Seattle (population 725,000). Mayor Jenny Durkan, a former U.S. attorney, is not running for reelection. Read more here.
WASHINGTON — As part of his racial and equality initiative, President Joe Biden on Monday signed a Presidential Memorandum that reaffirms tribal sovereignty through tribal consultation. Speaking in more general terms about the racial divide that exists in the country, Biden said the nation faces deep racial inequities in America. “In my campaign for President, I made it very clear that the moment had arrived as a nation where we face deep racial inequities in America and system — systemic racism that has plagued our nation for far, far too long,” Biden said.
A federal appeals court has struck another blow against the contested Dakota Access Pipeline.