Quinault Nation Applauds U.S. Court of Appeals Decision

Big Lagoon Rancheria v. State of California A significant victory for Indian Country

Source: Water4fish.net

TAHOLAH, WA (6/10/15) — A unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals issued Thursday, June 4, in favor of the Big Lagoon Rancheria in a dispute regarding the State of California’s failure to negotiate in good faith was a landmark case for tribes throughout the country, including the Quinault Nation, according to Quinault President Fawn Sharp.

The decision, made en banc by the Ninth Circuit Court ruling in Big Lagoon Rancheria v. State of California marks a significant victory for Indian Country and settles the uncertainty created by a now-vacated decision by the court in January 2014. Thursday’s decision holds that challenges to the trust status of lands and the federal recognition of an Indian tribe can only be brought pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA)*. 

In other words, a party cannot attack collaterally a BIA trust decision outside the framework of the APA. In this particular case, the State of California “failed to file the appropriate APA action and because such an APA challenge would be time-barred,” the Ninth Circuit held that the State could not prevail on its claims.   The decision is an affirmation of a U.S. District Court’s decision that the state had failed to negotiate in good faith and ruled that the tribe can conduct gaming under the Indian Gaming Resources Act (IGRA), subject only to the Secretary of the Interior’s approval of the tribe’s gaming compact.

 “This holding is a major victory for all of Indian Country and for American justice,” said President Sharp. “Among other things, it will protect the final decisions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from collateral attacks in litigation after the expiration of administrative and legal remedies.  It clarifies that the status of tribal trust property is an issue separate from the obligation of states to negotiate in good faith under IGRA.  The decision sets a positive precedent for other federal courts and will help protect and preserve the legal status of tribal trust lands throughout the country.

The case began as a bad-faith suit filed against the State of California.  Relying on Carcieri v. Salazar, the state argued that the BIA lacked the authority to take land into trust on behalf of the tribe because the tribe was not under federal jurisdiction in 1934.  In that case, the state claimed the tribe was not entitled to good faith negotiations under IGRA because the parcel in question was not properly taken into trust by the BIA. In January 2014, a divided three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit held that the tribe was not “under federal jurisdiction in 1934” and that its trust property was therefore not “Indian lands” for purposes of IGRA.  This ruling had been a serious blow to the tribe and to Indian Country because it opened the door to collateral Carcieri attacks on BIA fee-to-trust decisions years after the expiration of administrative and legal remedies. In June 2014, the Ninth Circuit granted a rehearing en banc (full court hearing).

That hearing’s decision, Thursday’s unanimous reversal holds that challenges to the trust status of lands and the federal recognition of an Indian tribe can only be brought pursuant to the APA. 

 “In other words, a BIA trust decision cannot be attacked collaterally outside the framework of the APA,” said President Sharp.

“This truly is a case in which justice prevails. The case ruled that the tribe can conduct gaming under IGRA, subject only to the Secretary of the Interior’s approval of tribal/state compacts and not a barrage of collateral actions,” she said.


*The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), Pub.L. 79–404, 60 Stat. 237, enacted June 11, 1946, is the United States federal statute that governs the way in which administrative agencies of the federal government of the United States may propose and establish regulations.

North Dakota Today, Washington State Tomorrow?



By: Water4fish


TAHOLAH, WA (5/6/15)– The exploding oil train near Heimdal, North Dakota early Wednesday morning serves as the latest reminder that the oil trains traveling the tracks here in Washington are unsafe, according to Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation.

“This was just the latest in a series of oil train derailments that have resulted in crashes, followed by explosions, mountains of thick, black, toxic smoke and inevitable spills of poisonous oil that at some point make their always way into water systems, streams, rivers or marine waters,” she said.

  “Let there be no doubt. These trains are dangerous, and we are seeing more and more of them on our tracks all the time. Tribes are very concerned about them for many reasons. Not only do they jeopardize our citizens, because they are explosive and too heavy for the tracks they travel on; the oil that inevitably spills from them poisons our treaty-protected waters and aquatic resources. Also, fossil fuels are the primary cause of climate change. We all need to make some important decisions about the future.  Do we accept the major expansion of these poisonous fuels and the impacts they have on our environment, or do we opt to be good stewards of the land and work to phase them out and replace them with clean energy sources and wiser choices?”

 “These are our choices here in the Northwest, and in states across the country.  At Quinault Nation we have taken a stand against the proposed expansion of oil train traffic and terminals,” said President Sharp. Sharp is also President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, an organization of 57 Tribes encompassing six Northwest states, and Area Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians, a national organization of more than 500 Tribes.

This morning’s derailment is very similar in many ways to all the others, which have occurred in Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, as well as numerous close calls, including Seattle, she said.  Cars run off the track, the tanks are pierced, and a spark ignites the highly volatile crude, which either comes from the North Dakota Bakken fields or oil sands in Alberta.

 In the case of this morning’s accident, a waterway known as the Big Slough runs north of the tracks near Heimdal and drains into the James River.

There were no reported injuries from the derailment of the BNSF train near Heimdal, thank God. All the residents of the tiny town did have to be evacuated, as did farms anywhere near this morning’s explosion. That was only a few dozen people. But it could have been Aberdeen, or Seattle. Then it would have been thousands, and timely evacuation could be a virtual impossibility.

 The National Transportation Safety Board sent five people the site, and the Federal Railroad Administration sent 10 investigators. But inspecting is about all they could do.  The fires caused by these explosions must burn themselves out. They’re simply too hot to handle. Some of the oil leakage could be stopped, but not much, said Sharp.

 Last week, federal regulators passed new safety rules governing crude by rail, which has become a booming business thanks to the growth in U.S. oil production. Nearly 450,000 tankers of crude moved through North America last year, up from just 9,500 in 2009.

 “The Washington State Legislature just passed a bill to enhance safety, as well, and although all safety efforts are welcome, the fact is they are not enough. The simple truth is there is no such thing as a safe oil train, no matter how strict safety standards might be.  Rail and bridge infrastructure is in desperate need of repair and renewal. But even if and when that is achieved, there will be absolutely no guarantee of safety,” she said.

“The only safe oil train is one that has no oil in it. And as painful as it may be for the oil industry to consider, the best option is to phase out the use of fossil fuels. That will take time. But this is a critical situation that needs more focus, and investment, now,” she said.


Source: Press Release Quinault Indian Nation,

TACOMA, WA (5/4/15)—United States District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton dismissed a lawsuit this afternoon which had been filed in January against the Quinault Indian Nation and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources seeking to revoke ownership of Lake Quinault from the Tribe.
“This quick and explicit ruling was never in doubt,” said Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp. “As I said back in January, Lake Quinault is undisputedly within the Quinault Reservation. This was a meritless lawsuit. Lake Quinault is sacred to us. It is unquestionably within our Reservation and we take our responsibility to manage it properly very seriously.”
The suit, which was filed by North Quinault Properties LLC, questioned the Tribe’s ownership of the lake. The suit had included DNR for alleged failure to fulfill its management responsibilities. But the challenge actually stemmed from a few local landowners’ reactions to closure of the lake by the Quinault Nation last year, an action taken to protect the lake from pollution problems, invasive species and violation of tribally mandated regulations, said Sharp.
“Our objective is to protect the lake for future generations. We realize it is a popular recreation destination, and we are happy to accommodate those interests, but only as long as the lake is respected and protected at levels we accept,” she said.
“We want to acknowledge the fact that this frivolous lawsuit was brought by a single landowner and that a majority of landowners around the lake understand and support our objectives. They have shown respect for our efforts to reach out to work cooperatively while recognizing the exclusive governing authority of the Tribe. Good public policy among separate and distinct sovereigns requires cooperation, good faith, respect, and, when dealing with tribal nations, an understanding, in principle and practice, that our governing powers long pre-date the United States and its political subdivisions. I want to publicly thank our neighbors and say that we look forward to strengthening our valuable relationship with them. Working together, as we have been able to do, is the best way we can all assure that Lake Quinault will remain clean, beautiful and available for all citizens for many years to come,” she said.
Judge Leighton issued separate dismissal rulings for the Tribe and the DNR. The Court granted the Tribe’s motion to dismiss based on sovereign immunity. The state dismissal was based on the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Fawn Sharp Re-Elected Quinault President: ‘We are Headed for Success’

 Fawn Sharp: "Challenges, by definition, are obstacles that can be met and overcome."
Fawn Sharp: “Challenges, by definition, are obstacles that can be met and overcome.”


Indian Country Today

Many challenges still present for the Quinault Indian Nation. That was the message Fawn Sharp presented to tribal members on March 29 following her re-election to a fourth term as President of the Nation.

She spoke about federal funding cutbacks to the impacts of climate change and subsequent relocation needs. “But challenges, by definition, are obstacles that can be met and overcome, and as we do overcome them we will grow.”

The Quinault Nation of 3,000 people sits on more than 208,000 acres of land in the southwestern corner of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.

The Nation has been working tirelessly to stay in front of climate change. Sharp has continuously been among the most vocal voices in regards to Native communities, like her own, who are dealing with rising sea levels, loss of irrigation, and more.

RELATED: Climate Disruptions Hitting More and More Tribal Nations

“People should never think they live in some form of protected bubble, or that they can ignore the environment and get along just fine,” Sharp recently said in an interview with ICTMN following her appearance before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee on March 24.

RELATED: Fawn Sharp Discusses Steps to Stemming the Tide of Climate Change

Her reelection capped the tribe’s annual two-day General Council Meeting that also saw Tyson Johnston, vice-president, Larry Ralston, treasurer, Latosha Underwood, secretary and Gina James, first council, winning their elections.

Sharp’s speech to the tribe was not all about obstacles ahead though. She highlighted a variety of assets, qualities and opportunities the tribe and its members possess. Among those assets were natural resources, courage and vision. “With courage and vision, we are headed for success. Why? Because we are Quinault,” she said.

Economic self-reliance was a highlight of her speech. She commended the tribe for its consistent move towards the goal of self-reliance from the tribal owned businesses to individual tribal free enterprise. Quinault Indian Nation is the largest employer in Grays Harbor County. With economic diversity that spans the Quinault Casino and Resort, tribal stores, wood chip manufacturing, dock services, gas stations, and tribal staff. Total employment sits around 3,000 people. Not to mention the various businesses owned by tribal members that is showing a steady increase as well, with the assistance of tribal training, licensing and natural resource management.

The Quinault Indian Nation has an eleven member governing body known as the Quinault Business Committee which Sharp presides over. Tribal members are democratically elected by the adult tribal membership, or general council, to serve three-year staggered terms.

Members of the QBC are seen as constitutional officers who hold the responsibility of making sure the service and performance of numerous tribal departments – social services, health care and education, road maintenance, natural resources management and emergency services – operates accordingly.

Sharp has a J.D. from the University of Washington, School of Law; advanced certificate in International Human Rights Law from Oxford University; and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Among her many roles, Sharp serves as President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and Northwest Regional Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians.

She resides on the Quinault Indian Reservation at Lake Quinault with her husband Dan Malvini and sons Daniel, Aljah, and Jonas, and daughter, Chiara.

Johnston, previously the first council, will be serving in his first term as vice president. He says he hopes to follow through on issues of concern raised by the General Council and supporting President Sharp in overcoming the obstacles the nation faces.

Ralston will be serving his third term as tribal treasurer. He says he looks forward to the challenges ahead and community interactions.

James has held various positions on the council over the last 11 years and will be filling the remaining two years of the first council position. “I look forward to developing changes in our Education & TERO programs along with Treaty right protections,” she said

Underwood enters her third term as tribal secretary. She said, “The Quinault people spoke loud and clear on the direction they want to go and the improvements they want to see. Their voices were definitely heard and I will do my best to fulfill their wishes.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/04/18/fawn-sharp-re-elected-quinault-president-we-are-headed-success-160017

Fawn Sharp Discusses Steps to Stemming the Tide of Climate Change

Courtesy Larry Workman/Quinault Nation“Our Mount Anderson glacier is gone. It was there for thousands of years and over the past few years it simply melted. That is warming the water and making salmon restoration more challenging.”
Courtesy Larry Workman/Quinault Nation
“Our Mount Anderson glacier is gone. It was there for thousands of years and over the past few years it simply melted. That is warming the water and making salmon restoration more challenging.”
Richard Walker, Indian Country Today 


Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp appeared before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee in Washington, D.C. on March 24 to request federal funding to support the relocation of homes, public buildings and schools out of a tsunami zone in the coastal village of Taholah.

Sharp’s testimony came a week after the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, of which she is president, hosted a summit, “Asserting Native Resilience – Protecting and Enhancing Tribal Resources and Sovereignty in the face of Climate Change.”

After her House subcommittee testimony, Sharp – a University of Washington-educated lawyer and former state administrative law judge – talked with ICTMN about the summit and what she believes the next steps must be to stem the tide of climate change and the devastation that would follow.

RELATED: Climate Change: Mankind Must Stop Destroying ‘Our Own Mystical Place’


Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp, during the 2013 Canoe Journey/Paddle to Quinault: “Climate change is expected to significantly alter the ecology and economy of the Pacific Northwest, and Tribes and Native communities are among the most climate-sensitive groups within this geographic area.” (Richard Walker)
Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp, during the 2013 Canoe Journey/Paddle to Quinault: “Climate change is expected to significantly alter the ecology and economy of the Pacific Northwest, and Tribes and Native communities are among the most climate-sensitive groups within this geographic area.” (Richard Walker)


What are some of the extreme examples of climate change that were presented at the meeting?

As we have known for some time, our ocean waters are acidifying due to increased pH levels caused by carbonic acids that result from the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It’s estimated that up to 40 percent of the carbon released by humans enter the ocean, as well as rivers and lakes.

Generally speaking, there is nothing new about this. But the increased levels of carbon released by humans since the industrial age has had major impacts and, as population has expanded in the U.S. and elsewhere, the increased amount of automobile emissions as well as other fossil fuel emissions have led to ever-increasing change in the form of water temperature increases and acidification.

So should this concern us? It absolutely should, because it is impacting the ecosystem. People should never think they live in some form of protected bubble, or that they can ignore the environment and get along just fine.

People are just as dependent on a healthy ecosystem as every other living creature on Earth, and anytime any specie is in danger, we are affected. But, whether due to fear of losing their job or a feeling of helplessness or some inaccurate information they might have heard somewhere, far too many people do nothing about it. They ignore it or even deny it. That’s just not good enough.

Everyone who lives on our Mother Earth has a responsibility to protect her. Everyone who drinks water in one form or another has a duty to assure it is pure. And every person who breathes God’s air is responsible for its quality.

The ocean is warming. It has become acidified. The sea level is increasing, increasing the intensity of storm surges, as well as flooding, erosion, forest fires and habitat loss. Glaciers have melted or are melting, causing rivers and lakes to warm and making them uninhabitable for fish. We feel all of these impacts at Quinault Nation. Our Mount Anderson glacier is gone. It was there for thousands of years and over the past few years it simply melted. That is warming the water and making salmon restoration more challenging.

What are some innovative ways tribal nations are responding to the challenges presented by climate change?

There are innovative approaches being used or planned by some tribal nations but the bottom line is that Mother Nature’s ways are best. Fish and wildlife need a healthy environment, just as people do. Securing those resources and protecting them for future generations requires respect for the environment. It’s an old tribal value to take only what you need from Nature to survive, and use all that you take. It’s also an old value to base the decisions one makes today on the impacts they will have seven generations from now.

As my very good friend Billy Frank Jr. used to say, “You have got to see the big picture.” Those who rush to drill every drop of oil they can now so they can get as rich as they can, regardless of the impact on the environment, do not see the big picture. Those who neglect the environment when they use pesticides or buy high gas-consumption cars don’t see the big picture. Those who neglect instream flows in their quest for irrigation water or build dams on rivers simply do not see the big picture.

But to answer your question, there are many ways that tribes are being innovative in responding to the climate change problem. This is probably the biggest environmental problem that exists in the world today. So tribes have been gathering, as nations, on a national and international scale to share ideas, consolidate plans and garner strength in their efforts to have a strong voice in their call for the countries of the world to change their ways. We want them to stop poisoning the planet, stop killing all the animals and plants and stop destroying all the habitat. We have been working with the United Nations and other international organizations to achieve the level of recognition the Indigenous Peoples of the world deserve.

We have reached out and been a part of many efforts designed to see solutions to climate change. I served on the Governor’s Carbon Emissions Task Force all summer long as we developed a gas tax plan for the state, which is now being considered in the legislature.

Virtually every tribe in the state is involved at some level in protecting, enhancing or restoring habitat. Quinault has been for many years. Those efforts are constantly innovative in their approach – whether our scientists are developing new ways to place trees in the river to regain natural hydraulics in the system or devising new ways to place gravel for spawning habitat. We invest in our science and in our river, lake and marine restoration and protection programs because it supports our future, it is true to our heritage and because it’s the right thing to do.

(Sharp then shared information about the Swinomish Tribe’s Climate Change Initiative, which can be viewed at here.)

What will ATNI do with the information that was presented at the climate change summit?

ATNI will work with a group of tribal representatives from Pacific Northwest Tribes and Inter-Tribal organizations, in collaboration with federal, state and local governments, to prepare summary recommendations on the following by the next ATNI convention in Warm Springs, Oregon on May 18-21:

One, begin to identify Pacific Northwest Tribal needs for climate change and organize tribes regionally to support increased funding, technical support, and capacity to address those needs.

Two, identify strategies to promote and protect tribal sovereignty and tribal resources.

Three, prepare a strategy to engage Pacific Northwest Tribes on developing a policy framework for a “Pacific Northwest Tribal Action Plan on Climate Change, Energy, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” similar to California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia’s “Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate Change, Energy, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”

Four, coordinate Pacific Northwest Tribes’ actions on climate change into a cohesive and effective strategy in order to inform regional, national, and international policy.

Five, adopt a resolution at ATNI’s May 2015 convention to bring climate change issues, policies, and strategies to the National Congress of American Indians national convention.

In addition to the outcomes of this summit, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians support the findings of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience established by Executive Order 136531.

(Sharp then reviewed those recommendations, which can be read at here.)

How are tribal nations seeing the effects of climate change, perhaps in ways that people outside of Indian country are not seeing them?

Climate change is expected to significantly alter the ecology and economy of the Pacific Northwest, and tribes and Native communities are among the most climate-sensitive groups within this geographic area.

Models predict warmer temperatures, more precipitation as rainfall, and decreased snowfall over the next 50 years which will directly affect the abundance of culturally significant foods, such as salmon, deer, root plants, and berries. These foods are important for ceremonies and subsistence, and access to traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering sites is guaranteed by treaty, constitution, or other agreements with the federal government. Increasing the climate resilience of tribal governments and Native communities is critical to ensuring access to resources protected by right and vitally important to the cultural existence and economic vitality of these communities.

Tribes must proactively begin to address these impacts, assess their vulnerability, and develop adaptation strategies. A few Northwest tribes are developing their internal technical, legal, and policy capacity to comprehensively address climate change impacts – however, much more work is needed. Although many tribes have been involved [in] habitat and climate change-related efforts, less than 5 percent of tribal governments – 25 [federally recognized] tribes out of 566 – nationwide have developed climate change vulnerability assessments or adaptation plans.

What action does ATNI want to see taken in order to see some positive impacts immediately?

Funding of Northwest tribes is critical. The principal funding source for Tribal Climate Change is the Bureau of Indian AffairsIn fiscal year 2013, the BIA had only copy million allocated to tribal governments nationwide. In fiscal year 2014, there was to be copy0 million appropriated for Tribal Climate Change programs, however those funds have either been re-appropriated within the Department of the Interior or have not yet reached tribal governments. The ATNI-member tribes are seeking an increase of $50 million for the BIA Climate Change Program for fiscal year 2016 and beyond.

Support is needed for tribes to prepare for the unique impacts they face as a result of climate change. The federal government must fully incorporate its government-to-government relationship with tribes and Alaska Native communities into existing programs and activities that relate to climate change by enhancing self-governance capacity, promoting engagement of state and local governments with tribal communities, and recognizing the role of traditional ecological knowledge in understanding the changing climate.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/04/01/fawn-sharp-discusses-steps-stemming-tide-climate-change-159826

Quinault Nation president picked as leader of Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians

Source: Peninsula Daily News

Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Nation, has been re-elected president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.

Sharp was re-elected by acclamation Wednesday to a second term during the annual convention of the affiliated tribes, according to Steve Robinson, Quinault spokesman.

The convention is being hosted this week by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation near Pendleton, Ore.

“It is a great honor to have the opportunity to continue serving Northwest tribes in this capacity,” Sharp said.

“Our region carries a legacy of strong leadership and represents an amazing diversity of issues.”

Sharp said her top priority would be “to continue to unify, strengthen and amplify the Northwest voice” on issues involving the rights and resources of the tribes.

The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians is composed of 57 tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

Representatives determine regional policy priorities and direction during three yearly meetings.

The executive board serves as the board of directors for the organization, which was chartered as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization 61 years ago.

Its goals and objectives are to promote tribal sovereignty and serve the common interests of its member tribes in a wide variety of areas, ranging from health and education to natural resource management and sustainable economic development.

In her role with the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Sharp also serves as area vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, the largest intertribal organization in the country.

She is serving her third term as Quinault president.

Sharp received a Juris Doctor from the University of Washington school of law and holds an advanced certificate in international human rights law from Oxford University.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Gonzaga University in Spokane.

Quinault’s Taholah Lower Village to relocate due to ocean threats

Aerial view of Taholah's Lower Village.Photo courtesy of Larry Workman
Aerial view of Taholah’s Lower Village.
Photo courtesy of Larry Workman

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TAHOLAH – On March 25, the encroaching waters of the Pacific Ocean awakened residents in Taholah, Washington, when their aging seawall was breached and flooded sections of their Lower Village. Now, the village is faced with relocation due to changes in climate resulting in rising sea levels, tsunami threats, and flood danger from the Quinault River.

The ancestral home of the Quinault people is classified as a tsunami hazard zone by the Washington Emergency Management Division and is no longer considered safe. As a result, a comprehensive master plan is being implemented that would move residents and government structures 120 feet above sea level to the Upper Village.

The risks were identified years before when the Quinault Indian Nation undertook a comprehensive analysis of the coastline after increased flooding in the Lower Village. The analysis showed deterioration of the protective berm that separates the Lower Village from the ocean water. With each large storm the ocean encroaches further into the village, making relocation necessary. “We first thought it was rain water, but in 2009 we did a walk down to the ocean line and we discovered the ocean was encroaching much worse than we thought,” said Councilman Larry Ralston, Quinault Indian Nation Treasurer.

What was uncovered was the deterioration of a protective berm that separated the Lower Village from the ocean water and with each large storm, the ocean encroached further into the village, making relocation necessary.

“We did a risk management plan and undertook an emergency preparedness evaluation and it was determined that not only are we vulnerable to the ocean encroaching, but the footprint of our Lower Village is vulnerable to liquefaction, so if we had a large earthquake, the village could actually sink

Larry Ralston, Quinault Indian Nation Treasurer, stands in front of his mother's house which will not be moved during the relocation of Taholah's Lower Village, and could face possible demolition along with other buildings that cannot be moved. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Larry Ralston, Quinault Indian Nation Treasurer, stands in front of his mother’s house which will not be moved during the relocation of Taholah’s Lower Village, and could face possible demolition along with other buildings that cannot be moved.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

into the earth,” said Fawn Sharp, Quinault Indian Nation President.

President Sharp explained the safety of current and future Quinaults is the main priority. “We have a sacred trust and duty to those who are deeply connected to the land and their homes. It is a mix in which we have to plan carefully. We have over 1,000 residents and we have our major retail outlet, the Taholah Mercantile. We have our jail facility, courthouse, daycare and head start, and k-12 school so a number of our critical programs are located right in the heart of the village.”

“As of right now we are in the process of undertaking a feasibility study. The study will fully assess the infrastructure and the number of residents at risk, putting together a plan that we can then take to federal appropriators and members of congress, and other federal agencies in an effort to relocate the village,” said President Sharp.

Preliminary estimates for relocation cost are near $65 million and include the need to acquire land adjacent to the Upper Village, and the building of infrastructures including roadways, utilities, housing, and businesses. The loss of generational history that holds cultural relevance to the Quinault people is something that is also being considered, as is the risk of the “big one” hitting.

“As a resident of the Lower Village, we think about tsunamis more often than not. For a lot of us, we grew up listening to the ocean and we know what the weather is going to be like just by hearing the waves. You are always listening to the ocean to monitor what is going on,” said Ralston.  “I am looking forward to the move, but I also know there are some houses that will be torn down like the one that my mother was born in in 1928. The worst case scenario if we don’t move everyone to higher ground, is that we get hit with a wave at two in the morning and we would only have two or three minutes to evacuate the Lower Village and we lose lives.”

Quinault elder James DeLaCruz Sr. stands by the recently reinforced Taholah seaswall, is among the handful of residents who do not plan to leave the Lower Village during Taholah's relocation. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Quinault elder James DeLaCruz Sr. stands by the recently reinforced Taholah seaswall, is among the handful of residents who do not plan to leave the Lower Village during Taholah’s relocation.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

With only two ways in and out of Taholah, the risk of liquefaction puts residents at a high risk during evacuation, as roads would be inaccessible. During the event of a tsunami wave residents have limited time to move to higher ground.

Tsunami warning systems in place in Taholah include a siren monitored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrator headquarters in Seattle. In the event of an earthquake or tsunami wave the siren will go off followed by a voice telling residents to evacuate. To date, the siren has only been used during monthly test drills.

“The benefit of the relocation will be knowing that our citizens are safe, said President Sharp. “The other benefit will be the planning process will have a lot of room to expand. We have a fairly large land base adjacent to the village that we are looking at developing. There will be opportunity to create space for building a private sector economy. We are getting direct input from our membership; if you could take just a blank space, how would you want to design a community? That is the exciting part of the planning stage. There are a lot of great ideas that are emerging from our citizens, and their vision and their view of what a future Taholah will look like.”

Although relocation is necessary, residents will not be forced to move. Some residents like Quinault elder James DeLaCruz Sr. knows he will not be relocating. His house butts against the seawall, and as he explains “The Lower Village has been a part of my life as long as I can remember and this is where my home is until nature changes that.

Taholah Mercantile, a Quinault Indian Nation enterprise, is the main, and only, source of perishable food shopping for residents in the Lower Village. It sits a block from the seawall and is at risk of flooding from rising sea levels. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Taholah Mercantile, a Quinault Indian Nation enterprise, is the main, and only, source of perishable food shopping for residents in the Lower Village. It sits a block from the seawall and is at risk of flooding from rising sea levels.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

“We believe that every citizen has that right,” said President Sharp. “We will do our best to educate our membership about the risk. We will do our best to provide our citizens the options for relocation, but ultimately we will respect that individual citizen’s absolute right to live where the Creator put them and the lands that were given to our ancestors.”

“Our ancestors had to be good stewards of the land. We have done that here at Quinault,” said President Sharp. “Yet we seem to be paying the price for others who don’t share the same values. Our ocean is becoming acidic, the ocean is encroaching into our ancient homelands, and the glaciers that feed the upper Quinault River and our prized sockeye salmon are disappearing. So while we have been good stewards, we are paying a heavy price for other peoples mistakes.”

The Taholah Relocation Master Plan includes the Quinault Planning Development and Kaul Design Associates. A three-year planning process will be implemented in phases and include gathering information, needs and choices of the community, and final plan preparation.


Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com


Climate Change is Real, Let’s Fight It Together



President Fawn Sharp of the Quinault Indian Nation says she is happy to participate on the Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force Governor Jay Inslee created by executive order yesterday [April 29], but advises that “genuine state-tribal cooperation, communication and government-to-government relations will be essential to the success of any effort to address the many challenges posed by climate change.”

Sharp, who is also President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, encompassing six Northwest states, and Area Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians, is the only tribal member of the Governor’s task force.

President Sharp said, “Climate Change is the greatest environmental disaster of our generation and its impacts are felt both near and far. The fact is that tribes have preceded other governments in addressing climate change issues, and it is time for our words to be heard, our warnings to be acknowledged and our programs to be recognized.”

She said the reason tribes have moved forward with programs to address the effects of climate change while other governments have been stymied is that it is embedded in the tribal culture to care for the land in a sustainable manner. “Stewardship of our natural resources and environment is something we learn at a young age. We understand the big picture—the economic, policy, environmental and cultural values of sustainability and the responsibility we all have to our children and future generations. Those are the values that must be prioritized if we are to meet the climate change challenge.”

In signing the order, the Governor outlined a series of steps to cut carbon pollution in Washington and advance development and use of clean energy technologies, and said, “This is the right time to act, the right place to act and we are the right people to act. We will engage the right people, consider the right options, ask the right questions and come to the right answers — answers that work for Washington.”

“Whether it’s the warming of the Pacific Ocean, Hurricane Sandy, the tornadoes across the country or the Oso landslide, the melting of our Mt. Anderson Glacier or the breaching of our Taholah seawall, the link to climate change is clear to us. It has been for a long time. And so is the absolute need to take action,” said Sharp.

“It’s a primary reason why I have agreed to work with the Governor on his Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force. It’s a key reason why we have taken a strong stand against the proposal to build oil terminals in Grays Harbor and substantially increase the number and frequency of oil trains and tankers. It’s why we are reaching out to strengthen alliances with neighboring communities and entities of all kinds and it’s why we have been so heavily engaged in the effort to resolve the climate change challenge for many years — through political, education and habitat-related programs.

“Quinault is a nation of people who, like their ancestors for thousands of years, fish, hunt and gather. The core of our economy is based on health and sustainable natural resources—a clean and vibrant ecosystem. We are also a nation blessed with thousands of acres of forest land. We do not manage our forests to the detriment of our fishing and hunting, but the other way around. Managing holistically, with respect for our descendants, and their needs is the key. These are the lessons of our ancestors, lessons that oil tycoons and timber barons never learned to appreciate.

We are a people who are determined to practice good stewardship. Sometimes that means doing habitat work in the Quinault River, something we have done extensively for many years. Sometimes it means taking part in international climate change summits—providing a leadership role in such efforts as the United Nations’ Conference of Parties (COP 14) in Poznan, Poland in 2009 or the First Stewards Summit in Washington D.C.,” said Sharp.

Quinault Nation established a comprehensive set of climate change policies in 2009, before Congress considered introducing its national policies. We have advocated and advanced our climate change-related interests locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. “We have asked the President and Congress to understand the connection between climate change and such impacts as the decline of our Blueback salmon run and the destruction that is now occurring with shellfish and other species in the ocean due to acidification and hypoxia. Other tribes have worked alongside us, pushing for action by the State of Washington, the United States and the United Nations, for many years. It is our heritage, and right, to do so,” said Sharp.

“We believe it’s time to call to end the nonsensical debate in the Legislature and in Congress about whether it exists. It does, and it is very serious.

“Year in and year out we are all facing the deadly consequences of a century of environmental contempt, and ignoring that fact will not make the challenge go away. It is time for people to treat our natural environment with the respect it deserves,” she said.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/05/01/climate-change-real-lets-fight-it-together-154682?page=0%2C1

Quinault Nation Urges Opposition to Oil Trains and Shipping


Source: Water4Fish

TAHOLAH, WA – The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) is adamantly opposed to increased oil train traffic in Grays Harbor County, the construction of new oil terminals, increased oil shipping from the port of Grays Harbor and dredging of the Chehalis River estuary. “We oppose all of these for both economic and environmental reasons,” said Fawn Sharp, QIN President. “We ask the citizens, businesses and agencies from within the county and beyond to stand with us in opposing the intrusion of Big Oil into our region,” she said. “The small number of jobs this dirty industry brings with it are vastly outnumbered by the number of jobs connected with a healthy natural resources and a clean environment,” she said.

“It is time for people from all walks of life to stand up for their quality of life, their children and their grandchildren. It makes no sense whatsoever to allow Big Oil to invade our region, especially with the volume they are proposing. We all have too much at stake to place ourselves square in the path of this onrushing deluge of pollution, to allow mile-long trains to divide our communities and jeopardize our air, land and waters,” she said.

“Consider the number of jobs that are dependent on health fish and wildlife. The birdlife in Grays Harbor alone attracts thousands of tourists every year. Fishing and clamming attract thousands more. And anyone who listens to Big Oil or their pawns when they tell us how safe the oil trains are, or the ships or even the oil terminals that are being proposed needs to pay closer attention. We have already had large quantities of fish and shellfish stolen from us through development of and damage to Grays Harbor and its tributaries and we are not accepting any more losses. We want restoration, not further damage,” she said.

“Derailments, crashes, spills and explosions are extremely dangerous and they happen with frightening regularity. The fact is that there will be accidents and there will be spills, and they will do extensive damage,” said Sharp.

Sharp said there is another fact of which people must be aware: “If we stand together, speak up and demand to be heard, we can make a difference. Our collective voice empowers us.”

U.S. Development Group is currently seeking permits to build an oil terminal on the Washington coast that could handle about 45,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The $80 million proposal at the Port of Grays Harbor is one of several in Washington that together would bring millions of barrels of oil by train from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. About 17 million barrels of oil were shipped across Washington State last. That number is expected to triple this year. Grays Harbor is facing three separate crude-by-rail proposals. Westway Terminal Company, Imperium Terminal Services, and U.S. Development Group have each proposed projects that would ship tens of millions of barrels of crude oil through Grays Harbor each year. Daily trains more than a mile long would bring crude oil from North Dakota or tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada along the Chehalis River and into the port, where it would be stored in huge shoreline tanks. The crude would then be pumped onto oil tankers and barges, increasing at least four-fold the large vessel traffic in and out of the harbor.

Westway Terminal Company proposes five new storage tanks of 200,000 barrels each. Westway estimates it will receive 1.25 unit trains per day or 458 trains trips (loaded and unloaded) a year. The company estimates it will add 198-238 oil barge transits of Grays Harbor per year. “The chances are even those counts are very conservative,” said Sharp.

Imperium Terminal Services proposes nine new storage tanks of 80,000 barrels each. With a capacity to receive 78,000 barrels per day, Imperium may ship almost 28.5 million barrels of crude oil per year. Imperium estimates that the terminal would add 730 train trips annually, equaling two, 105-car trains (one loaded with oil on the way in, one empty on the way out) per day. The company estimates 400 ship/barge transits through Grays Harbor per year.

U.S. Development Group submitted its application in this crude-by-rail race early this month. It proposes eight storage tanks each capable of holding over 123,000 barrels of crude oil. The company anticipates receiving one loaded 120 tank car train every two days, and adding 90-120 Panamax-sized vessel transits through Grays Harbor per year.

“We are targeted by Big Oil,” said Sharp. “We will not allow them to turn our region into the greasy mess they have created in other regions. We care about our land and our water. We realize how important our natural resources are to our future and we’re not going to sit by and let them destroy what we have,” said Sharp.

Deborah Hersman, outgoing chair of the National Transportation Safety Board said on April 21 that U.S. communities are not prepared to respond to worst-case accidents involving trains carrying crude oil and ethanol. In her farewell address in Washington DC, she said regulators are behind the curve in addressing the transport of hazardous liquids by rail and that Federal regulations have not been revised to address the 440 percent increase in rail transport of crude oil and other flammables we have experienced since 2005. Hersman, who is leaving her post at NTSB April 25 to serve as president of the National Safety Council, said the petroleum industry and first responders don’t have provisions in place to address a worst-case scenario event involving a train carrying crude oil or ethanol.

Hershman added in her comments that the DOT-111 rail tank cars used to carry crude oil are not safe to carry hazardous liquids. She also said that NTSB is overwhelmed by the number of oil train accidents. At present, she said the NTSB is involved in more than 20 rail accident investigations but only has about 10 rail investigators.

“It makes absolutely no sense for us to allow our communities to be exposed to the same dangers that killed 47 people in Quebec this past summer. That tragedy was not an isolated incident. It could happen here, and there is absolutely no doubt that this increased oil traffic will cost us all in terms of both environmental and long term economic damage,” said Sharp.

“For the sake of our public safety, our long term economy, our streams, wetlands, fishing areas, shellfish beds, and migratory bird habitats, we will stand up to them. The Quinault Nation encourages everyone who cares about the future of our region to participate in the public hearings regarding the Westway and Imperium proposals being conducted at 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday, April 24 at Hoquiam High School and Tuesday, April 29 at Centralia High School. We further encourage letters and calls to the Department of Ecology, to local government and to the Governor. Now is the time for to speak out in support of the future of Grays Harbor and the Pacific Northwest!”

“We strongly encourage people to show up and make comments and submit written testimony at these hearings,” said Sharp. “A good turnout is a must,” she said. Following the hearing, written comments can be sent to Maia Bellon, Director of the Department of Ecology, at 300 Desmond Drive, Lacey, WA 98503-1274.

To join QIN in this effort, please email ProtectOurFuture@Quinault.org. “Together, we can protect the land and the water for our children, and rebuild a sustainable economy,” said Sharp.

Please visit: http://kbkw.com/local-news/139970 for the complete story

Quinault Indian Nation partners with Corps of Engineers during repairs of Taholah seawall

Quinault Indian Tribe and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District work to repair seawall from Brandi Montreuil on Vimeo.

by Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TAHOLAH, WA – Residents described the crashing storm waves like an earthquake hitting. Wave after wave broke over the weakened seawall that separates Taholah’s lower village from the raging North Pacific Ocean on the evening of March 25. During the storm, a section of the 1, 100 foot seawall failed, leaving residential properties and residents of the Quinault Indian Nation vulnerable to flooding.

The following morning the destruction was clear. A smokehouse lay in a twisted shamble, other outbuildings, and properties were damaged and flooded, and the weeks’ weather report came in projecting rain, high winds, and 3 to 5 foot waves with 13 to 15 second swells by the weekend. Seven hundred Taholah residents faced an emergency.

Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation issued a voluntary evacuation, in which four families left the affected area. A request was also sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to declare the portion of Taholah affected as a federal disaster area and funds made available for disaster relief.

Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Brian Stenehjem leads the Corps team assisting Quinault Indian Nation. He explains that wave action has damaged a 500-foot section of the seawall that separates Taholah's Lower Village.Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Brian Stenehjem leads the Corps team assisting Quinault Indian Nation. He explains that wave action has damaged a 500-foot section of the seawall that separates Taholah’s Lower Village.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved Quinault Nation’s emergency assistance request on March 27, and put the Seattle District Emergency Operations center into 24-hour operations. Teams were sent out to assist Quinault with temporary repairs to the failing 500-foot section of seawall, with a 48-hour completion date before an overnight storm coincided with high tide on March 29.

During the Corps initial inspection of the wall, they reported calving of rock and core material due to wave action.

During the March 25 storm, the wall sustained damage along the entire structure length, with the toe material of the berm removed and replaced with what protected the slope. This left the slope of the berm unprotected and vulnerable to waves and more removal of slope material, which if left unrepaired, would lead to a collapse of the berm’s capstones and loss of protection.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District has put its Emergency Operations Center into 24-hour operations to assist the Quinault Indian Nation with flood protection measures following damage to the Taholoah Lower Village seawall on Tuesday, March 25.Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District has put its Emergency Operations Center into 24-hour operations to assist the Quinault Indian Nation with flood protection measures following damage to the Taholoah Lower Village seawall on Tuesday, March 25.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

The repairs involved an orchestrated effort by Quinault’s Emergency Management, Quinault TERO workers, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

To make the necessary repairs, an access ramp had to be built to allow in excavators large enough to remove the capstones, and install a filter blanket and armor rock to prevent further erosion of the slope during wave action.

“We first had to make an access route to work our way down to the filter blanket,” said Brian Stenehjem, Corps of Engineers team leader on the project, about the layer of material placed between the riprap [a layer of stone to stabilize an area subject to erosion] and the underlying soil to prevent soil movement into or through the riprap.

Placement of armor rock was conducted on Saturday, March 29, which will help decrease the vulnerability to wave action to the slope.Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Placement of armor rock was conducted on Saturday, March 29, which will help decrease the vulnerability to wave action to the slope.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

“The toe rock got scoured out which caused the slope rock to fall down so all we had was the caprock on top and the toe rock and nothing in the slope. And without that slope armor protection, it really leaves the whole structure susceptible to wave action. And that is the underlying problem if the structure doesn’t have any of that protection,” said Stenehjem

“We had to work our way down, creating a filter to protect the embankment, so we used class 2 riprap and you inline the whole embankment with that. Then we overlay armor rock, which is 2 to 4 ton rock, which will provide the protection.  So you want the big rock, your medium rock, and then your small rock as a kind of filtering,” said Stenehjem

Quinault Emergency Management staff member John Preston, drives past a residence that sustained damage due to the breach on Tuesday evening, March 25.Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Quinault Emergency Management staff member John Preston, drives past a residence that sustained damage due to the breach on Tuesday evening, March 25.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

More than 100 dump trucks were used to haul in the armor rock, adding to the increased general council traffic, and annual clam-digging event during March 29 through 30. Despite issues with broken equipment and increased traffic, repairs were finalized on Sunday, March 30, costing $300,000 and resulting in the placement of 4,500 tons of rock.

Corps teams remained on site throughout the March 29 storm to monitor the seawall conditions. The temporary repairs remained intact during the storm and prevented flooding to 700 residents in the affected area, including Quinault Indian Nation’s Tribal Police Department, animal control, storage facility for canoes, public work shops, Headstart School, and a retail shop and restaurant.

“On hearing about Quinault’s breached seawall we were immediately concerned for our tribal brothers and sisters,” said Tulalip Chairman Mel Sheldon Jr., when Quinault Indian Nation announced a state of emergency. “This, along with the tragic events in Oso this past week, we’re reminded how vitally important it is to the tribes to have the best possible emergency management plans in effect.”

“We wish to acknowledge and thank the help of the Corps of Engineers as well as Grays Harbor Emergency Services, the elected officials and all others who have sent their prayers and offers of support. Our people will be kept safe and we will continue to seek a more long term solution to this dangerous situation,” said Fawn Sharp.

A permanent solution is being sought due to the encroachment of the North Pacific Ocean waters, which have become invasive over time due to sea level rise and violent storms.


Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov


Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News