The Lakota People’s Law Project has put out a call to action to advocate against HR1374, the “Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act of 2021” – a bill that has already passed in the House and is heading to the Senate. This bill would worsen the already dangerous and complex dynamics of state-backed and corporate-funded violence against and criminalization of water protectors. More Information
For those of you who are not aware, literally thousands of bodies of Indian children are being discovered and exhumed from boarding school sites all across the continent. Yes, Unitarian Universalists also had missionaries running board schools. Sec. Haaland has ordered review of all US Boarding Schools (https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-haaland-announces-federal-indian-boarding-school-initiative) and UUs have been identified (https://boardingschoolhealing.org/healing/for-churches/ ). The UUA is preparing to receive notice of burials at the site of at least the Bond Mission school. Several years ago I did some research on UU role in boarding schools and this is what I came up with. As of 1902, UU historian Rev. George Willis Cooke’s writings stated there were 3 attempts on the part of Unitarians to undertake “educational work amongst the Indians.”[i] One mission was among the Chippewa/Objiwa in Minnesota in 1855 that failed due to the lack of funding. In 1871, President Grant assigned to the Unitarians the responsibility of education the Utes on the reservation near White River, Colorado that was attempted in 1885. This attempt failed as well due to “not getting sufficient encouragement.”[ii] In 1886, the American Unitarian Association established a boarding school on the Crow reservation in Montana called the “Montana Industrial School for Indians” or “Bond’s Mission School” run by Unitarian Rev. and Mrs. Henry F. Bond. J.F.B. Marshall, then Secretary of the Bureau of Southern and Indian Educational Work of the American Unitarian Association, wrote about a Crow girl at the school: calling her “a forlorn, homesick little savage” and “watched with great interest her gradual and progress from barbarism to civilization.”[iii] (Pg 447). Of all the Crow students, Marshall said “Here are fifty children taken out of the lowest and most degraded forms of savage home-life . . . and they are taught to love neatness, cleanliness and practical Christian life.”[iv] He went on to say of the students, “instead of being thrust back into a sea of barbarism with no career open to them, and no one to look after them, [they] will enter at once upon a life of usefulness, and like the negro graduates in the South will do credit to their training, and become zealous and successful laborers for the civilization of their race.”[v] Rev. Bond himself is recorded as saying this about the Crow students: "They are all bright promising boys. How such good appearing fellows come of an ignorant, lazy squalid, orphaned race is a constant surprise to us. I shall dread the time, if that comes, when they slip back into their old abodes and possibly leave.”[vi] “The Crow parents wanted to be close to their children, but the Rev. Bond would not allow it in order to maintain discipline and to pursue indoctrination without the outside influences of the family.”[vii] The school was taken over by the federal government in 1895. The Mountain Dessert District of the UUA website states “The Mountain Ute Tribe was visited in 1871 by the Rev. Jabez Nelson Trask. The Harvard School graduate was sent by Massachusetts Unitarians to serve as government agent to the tribe at Los Pinos, near Gunnison, Colorado. during that period many Protestant denominations pressured the U.S. government into allotting official posts to missionaries. Extremely confident of his righteousness and comfortably narrow in his view, Trask did not get along with the Utes, though they found him a great source of amusement because of his customary garb: large green goggles and flared trousers. Neglecting to spend any of the monies granted for the benefit of the Ute, Trask was removed from his post after one year. Following Mr. Trask was one General Charles Adams, whom the New England Unitarians were horrified learn was a Roman Catholic. Through political shenanigans the good general, well-liked the Ute, was soon succeeded by the Unitarian, Rev. Henry Bond. Mr. Bond left quickly when a shortage in the cattle fund was uncovered; he resurfaced in Wyoming in the late 1870s.”[viii] [i] Unitarianism in America: a history of its origin and development, pg 340 By George Willis Cooke, American Unitarian Association, Boston, 1902 [ii] Ibid., p. 341 [iii] Lend A Hand by edited by Edward E. Hale, 1887, Vol. 2, “Montana Industrial School For Indians” by J.F.B. Marshall, 447 [iv] The Unitarian, Volume 5, pg. 390, edited by Jabez Thomas Sunderland, Brooke Herford, Frederick B. Mott [v] Ibid., pg. 448 [vi] http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mttttp/_Bond_Schools/_Bond_l/_bond_l.htm [vii] Unintended Consequences: How the Crow Indians Used Their Education in Ways the Federal Government Never Intended, 1885-1920, Peter P. Holmanhttp://www.montana.edu/wwwhi/Papers/PeterHolman.pdf p9 -10 [viii] http://mdduua.org/about-us/mdd-history/ As a member and UU representative in the Interfaith Network for Indigenous Communities, we were advised by a Native minister that any response however inadequate we felt it might be, would be better than silence. So, the Network drafted and encouraging its member faith communities to adopt this statement.
A statement from the Interfaith Network for Indigenous Communities regarding Indigenous Boarding Schools, July 2021While we know that any response to the horrible news of unmarked mass graves at Residential Schools in Canada is inadequate, we also know that our lament must lead to action. We recognize that, though these atrocities are making headlines and receiving the attention of the world now, tribal communities have been testifying for years to the truth of forced removal, assimilation, abuse, and death perpetrated through boarding schools. We also know that within the developmental history of the United States, several Christian-based denominations were complicit in the cultural genocide of indigenous people in the United States and that the full story and truth has not yet been told in our country. Tribal communities have been calling upon complicit Christian-based denominations and state and federal governments to respond to these atrocities for many years. We also know that the trauma of this history lives on in the lives of people and communities, and all of us are affected. Telling the truth is a critical step to healing. So, our first commitment as the Interfaith Network for Indigenous Communities (INIC) is to listen to our indigenous siblings, to hear the truth they have been telling, to do what they have been asking, and to do all we can to advocate for this truth to be heard. We call upon our member faith communities here in the Northwest and throughout the country to tell the truth about their own association with Indian Boarding Schools in the United States. We pledge to advocate and work within each of our judicatories to identify boarding schools sponsored by or in any way associated with our faith communities. Though in many cases records of these schools have been lost or intentionally destroyed, another sign of the devaluing of indigenous lives, we call upon our various faith bodies to do all they can to conduct research in order to reconstruct this data, make the history of indigenous boarding schools public, and take this important step towards acknowledging accountability. We pledge to work closely with the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition in their efforts to document these truths and advocate for a National Truth and Healing Commission. We support and pledge to work with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as she establishes a Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. We call upon all our member faith communities to establish their own boarding school truth and healing initiatives to proactively work with, provide information to, and complement the work of Secretary Haaland’s initiative. INIC also pledges to make available on its website (fanwa.org/INIC) a list of boarding schools by faith community, as an aid in our efforts to advocate and raise awareness and work toward healing. We also will gather resources for liturgies of lament and make these available as communities continue to do the hard work of telling the truth, moving through pain, trauma, and sorrow toward healing. Finally, we know that a radical shift must occur in our own theologies as we seek to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and the way Christianity has been used to justify colonialism, domination, slavery, and genocide of indigenous people. We will make available the growing list of faith communities who wholly reject the premise of the Doctrine of Discovery as we collectively take steps to listen and speak the truth to heal the legacy of boarding schools that are a direct result of this racist theology of domination. We pledge ourselves to discovering anew the Spirit that unites us all, in whom we live and move and have our being, and pray for the continual transformation and healing of all.
This article is one of a pair of stories about the Skagit River and the federal process to relicense three major hydroelectric dams along its length. Read the companion story here. As he explored his ancestral homeland, Schuyler visited the upper Skagit River Valley, where he encountered the Gorge Dam. When the city of Seattle decided to dam the Skagit River in the early 1900s, it chose a sacred area known as “The Valley of the Spirits,” without consulting the Upper Skagit, who at the time were fighting for their survival. “You look throughout the world’s cultures,” Schuyler said, “when they have their individual stories in their culture of how life began, this is it for us. I can’t explain the emotions of seeing this historic wrong, and the hurt.” Read more here.
Being Native American may mean being deeply involved in protecting, teaching and advancing the knowledge and traditions of one’s tribe(s). Or it may mean being less connected to tribal communities while maintaining unique Native American identities in other ways within the larger society. There is no “one way” to be Native American. Every tribe and tribal citizen has a unique culture, history and tradition, and many people identify more as a citizen of a specific tribe(s) than collectively as Native American. Even with such a strong identity, contributions and presence, however, contemporary Native Americans are largely invisible to the rest of the country. Native American voices are rarely heard in the news, in popular culture or in history books, and what little isreflected in those venues about Native issues and cultures is riddled with misinformation and confusion. A group of diverse Native and non-Native stakeholders from across the country has conducted unprecedented research and developed a strategy to change this situation as part of an initiative called Reclaiming Native Truth. This initiative is designed to eradicate harmful and toxic narratives, stereotypes, structural and institutional racism, dehumanization, and the invisibility of Native Americans. It aims to increase access to opportunities and rights and to ensure that Native Americans live in a society where they are celebrated as a vital part of the fabric of the United States as both leaders and key contributors. Read more: RNT - Guide for Allies
There’s a widespread notion that “tribal sovereignty” and “Indian treaties” are legal, historical, practical and correct terms. Actually, sovereignty is sovereignty, and treaties are treaties, nation to nation is between and among sovereigns; the use of “tribal” or “Indian” or any modifier is both misleading and belittling. A two-year research project, Reclaiming Native Truth,released its final report in May on a number of topics, including sovereignty, and found: “Sovereignty was poorly understood across all stakeholder groups in our study — from elected officials and policymakers to influencers from other fields to the general public. There was added confusion about the concept of more than 600 sovereign nations within the United States and about how tribes can be both sovereign nations and ‘reliant on the government.’” Read more here.
Netse Mot: Support Lummi Nation and Xw’ullemy (the Salish Sea)
2nd Call for Support: Bring Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut Home!
Netse Mot 2021-Call to bring Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut Home2021 will focus on the return of Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut (Tokitae/Lolita) to the Pacific Northwest from Miami Seaquarim in Florida. In the 1970s Southern Resident Orca youth were forcibly and violently taken from their pods and shipped out to aquariums and parks all over the world. Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut (Tokitae/Lolita) was taken to Miami Seaquarium where she is the last surviving Orca youth taken. Lummi Nation has been trying for decades now to have her returned but Miami Seaquarim is refusing to release her. In 2019, two Lummi women, Squil-le-he-le and Mah Tahs working with Earth Law Center, invoked the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and announced their intent to sue Miami Seaquarium if the Seaquarium. To date (April 2021), Miami Seaquarim is still refusing to release Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut. Squil-le-he-le and Mah Tahs are calling upon us to respond as well.
- For individuals, they are asking that we sign the petition established by Earth Law Center that is collecting signatures to go to Miami Seaquarim and its parent and affiliates—Palace Entertainment and Parques Reunidos Servicios Centrales SA.
- For groups and organizations, they are asking that we sign a request to Governor's Inslee (WA) and Brown (OR) and BC Premier John Horgan to sign a proclamation to support the efforts to bring her home. Please sign by 24 May 2021. We'd like to present it to the Governors in June during Orca Action Month.
- We are also being asked to reach out to other Indigenous connections we may have and invite them to sign the Indigenous Statement of Solidarity. The request also includes a video of ceremonies in solidarity. If you have connections with an Indigenous group, please ask them to contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.