In this space we will be building the story of the Salish Sea, sharing the indigenous perspective and interpretation of the gifts and wonders of this sacred space. We have very challenging issues here with the fossil fuel and other industries, pollutants and toxins on land and in the water, congestive vessel traffic and shipping noise, severe adverse impacts on wild/marine life to the point of several Endangered Species Act listing, disputes with Treaty Rights, and more.
It’s a space with a place in time immemorial, with a sacred name. It deserves our respect and our due diligence.
Here are some resolutions passed by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians:
ATNI Resolution-18-32: 2018 Mid-Year Convention – “TOKITAE, THE SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALE POPULATION, AND THESALISH SEA: OUR SACRED OBLIGATION”
ATNI Resolution 19-29: 2019 Mid-Year Convention – “THE SALISH SEA AND OUR SACRED OBLIGATION”
Few rivers define a region like the Columbia, where tribal scientists are making headway in bringing back its most important species: salmon.
Just last week, the Puyallup Tribe announced it was suing the owner of the dam, Electron Hydro, LLC, over a long list of environmental hazards and permit violations — including a fish kill that caused the death of thousands of fish and the pollution of the river with un-permitted artificial turf, both of which occurred during construction last summer. That’s in addition to a lawsuit from the Department of Justice over the Clean Water Act. That lawsuit is specifically in response to the artificial turf incident, in which hundreds of cubic yards of turf that dam owner Electron Hydro had placed in the river disintegrated into crumb rubber and flowed downstream to the Puget Sound. Read more here.
The Tulalips are expanding efforts to protect land and water that are integral to their identity.When Terry Williams grew interested in climate change in the 1970s, he found information about human-caused global warming to be conflicting and confusing. “It didn’t make sense until the early ’80s, when we saw a difference in the timing of the floods,” the Tulalip Tribes elder recalled. Later studies bore out what was happening in the tribes’ traditional lands. “The glaciers were melting two to three months early. We got floods in November and December instead of March and April. Rainfall had increased 6%.” The 5,000 enrolled Tulalip citizens are primarily from the Snohomish, Snoqualmie and Skykomish tribes. In three river systems with the same names, ever-bigger and earlier floods wash away salmon eggs or bury them in river sediment. Higher water temperatures may kill fish that do manage to hatch. They never make it to Puget Sound. If salmon can’t survive, what will happen to a Native culture based on a plentiful supply? Read more here.
Bringing salmon back to the Upper Columbia has been a goal since the habitat was blocked by the Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams more than eight decades ago. Tribal members held the Ceremony of Tears 80 years ago when the final run of salmon returned. “Our ancestors carried a prayer that our salmon would one day return to the Upper Columbia. With all the prayers that were made historically and today, combined with all the efforts of our fisheries staff, our leaders and many others who are joined in this effort, we can bring our fish home,” Colville Business Council chairman Rodney Cawston said in a statement. In a 2019 ceremony, Colville members released 30 salmon above Chief Joseph Dam and, a few days later, above Grand Coulee. It was the first time salmon had returned to their traditional waters. Read more here.
On Wednesday, 25 November, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the permit application for the proposed Pebble Mine, an open-pit copper, gold, and molybdenum extraction project proposed for the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska – North America's most prolific salmon habitat. The Corps “determined that the applicant’s plan for the discharge of fill material does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines and concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest,” Col. Damon Delarosa, commander of the Corps in Alaska, said a prepared statement, according to Alaska Public.
The head of a proposed copper and gold mine near a prime Alaska salmon fishery has resigned after covertly filmed videos showed him talking about elected and regulatory officials and unreleased plans for the huge project. Northern Dynasty, owner of Pebble Limited Partnership, announced the resignation of Pebble Limited CEO Tom Collier in a statement Wednesday. The Environmental Investigation Agency, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental group, this week released secretly recorded Zoom conversations between Collier, Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen and activists posing as investors. The conversations occurred in August and earlier this month. Read more things here.
My traditional name is O’ĉ’si’ii (oh cha see ee) and in my Qwidičča ɂ-tx (qua ditch cha uth) Makah language, it means “Lady of the Sea” or “Protector of the Sea.” If Tahlequah’s new calf and my family’s way of life are going to survive, we have to protect salmon. Returning to abundant salmon is necessary for the orcas’ survival and extremely personal for me as a mother of four fishermen sons. My traditional name is O’ĉ’si’ii (oh cha see ee) and in my Qwidičča ɂ-tx (qua ditch cha uth) Makah language, it means “Lady of the Sea” or “Protector of the Sea.” If Tahlequah’s new calf and my family’s way of life are going to survive, we have to protect salmon. Returning to abundant salmon is necessary for the orcas’ survival and extremely personal for me as a mother of four fishermen sons. Read more here.
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – Many believe that Lolita, the whale that the Lummi Nation knows as Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut, is finally getting a much-needed break as the Miami Seaquarium has been closed to visitors since March because of COVID-19.
This is the longest she’s gone without performing and Thursday marked 50 years to the day that a baby 4-year-old orca was bought to the Seaquarium after being forcibly taken from her family and sold here.
Tribal elders from the Lummi Nation, the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest, were here in South Florida outside the seaquarium in a peaceful protest to continue their quest to liberate Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut. They came in prayer to mark, what is for them, a somber anniversary.Read more here.
Please join us in standing in solidarity for Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut at a virtual event on September 24th, the 50th anniversary of her captivity at Miami Seaquarium. From Lummi leaders Squil-le-he-le (Raynell Zuni) and Tah-Mahs (Ellie Kinley): We are traveling to Miami and holding ceremony as part of our Xa xalh Xechnging (sacred obligation) to care for our relation and work to bring her home. Estitem-sen (we are trying our best)! This hour-long Zoom and Facebook LiveStream event will be held from 2-3pm ET / 11am-12pm PT, and will feature: • Seminole and Miccosukee opening prayer • Water Ceremony for Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut • a short film about Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut’s history • Statement of Solidarity from International Indigenous Leaders • words from our partners at Earth Law Center, Northwest Indian College, Florida International University’s Global Indigenous Forum, and Whale Sanctuary Project • Ways for the public to engage with and support the work • the Blackhawk Singers of Lummi Nation Event will also be viewable on the Facebook newsfeed on the SacredSea.org homepage. Bringing Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut home will help heal her family and ours. Bringing her home will help heal the Salish Sea. Bringing her home be a step in upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples throughout the world who are working to protect their homes, their relations, and their ancestral ways. Hy’shqe (thank you)! Read more here.
OMAK & INCHELIUM — As of this print, the five fires that started during a wind event over the long Labor Day Weekend have destroyed over 80 homes and burned over 200,000 acres on the Colville Indian Reservation. . . . Each of the fires started on Sunday, Sept. 6, along with a number of other fires around the state. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee published a tweet noting on Sept. 7 “330,000 acres burned in WA. That’s more than 12 of the last 18 entire fire seasons. In a single day.” “The devastation wrought here and elsewhere around the state by wildfire is unimaginable,” said Hilary Franz, Washington Commissioner of Public Lands, speaking alongside Cawston. “What I saw on the ground and in the eyes of residents and tribal leaders was both heartbreak at the devastation and resolve to rebuild and respond to the needs of their neighbors during this crisis.” Read more here.
“The Condor and the Eagle” film screening and fundraiser for Tokitae Fund of Lummi Nation’s Lhaqtemish Foundation
Did you know that Targa Resources, a fossil fuel pipeline, fuel storage and transportation company, runs crude oil storage and terminaling facilities in Tacoma? Those are the huge tanks you can see along the Hylebos Waterway near the Port (2628 Marine View Drive). A few years ago, Targa (now under the name SeaPort Sound) expanded their rail capacity (oil trains) for “increased efficiency.” Now they have requested to increase their crude oil and other fossil fuel storage capacity. Is there any doubt that means more fossil fuel industry in Tacoma? And more risk for all of us if something goes wrong. And more impacts to the environment and climate change. Read more here.
Lummi tribal fishermen harvested salmon from Whatcom Creek in August, for the first time in at least 100 years. The chinook salmon were released as juveniles in 2017 from the Bellingham Technical College’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Science program’s hatchery, which works in partnership with tribal and state fisheries managers. When the chinook returned as adults, they congregated below the waterfalls in the creek beside the hatchery. Whatcom Creek travels from Lake Whatcom through the city of Bellingham to Bellingham Bay, where a pulp and paper mill operated on the waterfront from 1926 to 2007. “When they decided we could catch these fish for ceremonial and subsistence, my name came up, and they asked if I’d go fishing,” said Lummi fisherman Troy Olsen. “I said I’d love to do that.” Read more here.
But despite the fact the LNG terminal has been nixed, TC Energy isn’t giving up on its plan to build the pipeline. No other LNG terminals have been publicly proposed for the Prince Rupert area, but the company appears to be holding out hope that someone pitches one —and gets it built.
“Continuing to force communities, First Nations and stakeholders to spend their time and energy responding to ill-advised project extensions like this one is an exercise in futility and a waste of taxpayer and investment dollars,” he wrote in a letter to TC Energy. “You guys are like zombies, you keep trying to rise from the dead.”Read more here.
A growing number of tribal nations and intertribal organizations have adopted climate assessment and adaptation plans, according to the National Congress of American Indians. In Washington State, several tribes have included relocation as one of their adaptation strategies. . . . NRDC senior policy analyst Anna A. Weber, who studies the impacts of climate change and climate adaptation policies, says other factors also contribute to positioning Indigenous peoples like the Quinault Indian Nation on the front lines of our climate crisis. “The people who are the most likely to be displaced by climate change are likely to be low-income families and families of color because of long-standing policies like redlining, which have disproportionately led to communities of color being located in areas that are more susceptible to environmental hazards,” she says. “Relocation is a challenging topic for anyone, but add to this the fact that you’re dealing with communities who have been living on their ancestral lands for perhaps thousands of years and the toll is just unimaginable.” Read more here.