Time to Move Forward on Fish Consumption Rate

By Billy Frank, Jr., Chairman, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

OLYMPIA – The Washington state legislature deserves thanks for not caving in to demands from Boeing and others to require yet another study of fish consumption rates in Washington to tell us what we already know: Our rate is too low and does not protect most of us who live here.

It wasn’t easy. A Senate measure requiring another study before beginning rulemaking on a new rate was tied to passage of the state budget, and nearly led to a government shutdown. Boeing and others have been trying to stop or delay development of a new rate because they say it would increase their cost of doing business.

The fish consumption rate is part of the human health standards used by state government to determine how much pollution is allowed to be put in our waters. The 20-year-old rate of 6.5 grams per day – about one eight-ounce seafood meal per month – is supposed to protect us from more than 100 toxins that can cause illness or death.

It’s a sad fact that Washington has one of the highest seafood-eating populations, but uses one of the lowest fish consumption rates in the country to regulate water pollution and protect human health. Another study could have delayed development of a new rate for three years or more.

Tribes have been reaching out to business and industry to discuss implementation of a new fish consumption rate. We are sensitive to possible economic impacts of a higher rate, and we want to continue working together to create a meaningful path forward. But those efforts have largely been ignored, and that’s too bad, because we have solved bigger issues than this by working together.

We are encouraged, however, by the actions of Dennis McLerran, regional Environmental Protection Agency administrator. He has stepped forward to express his agency’s commitment to protecting water quality and human health in Washington.

In a recent letter to Maia Bellon, director of the state Department of Ecology, McLerran pledged to support the state in developing a more accurate fish consumption rate. He made it clear, however, that if the state can’t or won’t get the job done, he will use his authority to establish a new rate. “The EPA believes there are scientifically sound regional and local data in Washington that are sufficient for Ecology to move forward in choosing a protective and accurate fish consumption rate at this time,” McLerran wrote.

Ecology director Bellon has said that we could have a more accurate fish consumption rate adopted by late 2014, and we intend to hold her to that. Oregon has increased its fish consumption rate to a more realistic 175 grams per day; we think Washington residents deserve at least that much protection.

We’re spending too much money, time and effort to clean up and protect Puget Sound and other waters to let business and industry continue to pollute those same waters. Right now we are paying for our state’s low fish consumption rate with the cost of our health, and that’s not right.

Developing a more accurate fish consumption rate isn’t about jobs versus the environment. It isn’t just an Indian issue. It’s a public health issue and needs to be treated that way. We can’t allow politics to trump common sense when it comes to protecting our own health and that of future generations.

If you want to learn more, visit the Keep Our Seafood Clean Coalition website at keepseafoodclean.org

Puget Sound Speed-Crabbing Derby is July 20 in Everett

Mark Yuasa, The Seattle Times

How fast can you harvest a limit of Dungeness crab?

That is what will happen when crabbers converge at the Puget Sound Speed-Crabbing Derby July 20 at the Port of Everett.

Check in is 6:30 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. with the derby starting at 8 a.m.

The unusual derby is free, and open to teams of two, three or four crabbers who race against the clock to harvest and submit the 10 heaviest Dungeness crab they can catch in the shortest amount of time.

Teams are individually timed from the start signal until they finish the race by crossing the finish line. There is a maximum of four crab pots per team per boat. Each team must have a separate catch cooler to contain their 10 heaviest crabs.

Each vessel will be checked prior to the start of the race to make sure all gear and no crab are stowed in the boat. All boats must return by noon to the ramp, and for every 10 minutes after the deadline a boat will be penalized. Those who return after 12:30 p.m. will be disqualified.

For details, go to www.speedcrabbing.com.

Pink salmon clinics to be held at the Tulalip Cabela’s Store on July 13-14

Mark Yuasa, The Seattle Times

More than six-million pinks are expected to migrate into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound this summer, and the Cabela’s Tulalip Store at 9810 Quil Ceda Blvd. in Tulalip is hosting a pink salmon fishing seminar July 13-14.

Seminar schedule each day is: 11 a.m., Fly Fishing for Pinks by Mike Benbow; 12:15 p.m., Successful River Techniques for Pinks by Jennifer Stahl; 1:30 p.m., Catching Pinks with Dick Nite Spoons by Jon Blank; 2:45 p.m., Puget Sound Pink Fishing by Nick Kester and Ryan Bigley; 4 p.m.,  Tying Your Own Pink Salmon Jigs; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Smokin’ Pinks and Kids Casting.

For more information, go to www.cabelas.com/tulalip.

Ty Trenary selected as new Snohomish County sheriff

Noah Haglund, The Herald

EVERETT — Snohomish County has a new sheriff: Ty Trenary.

The County Council approved the appointment Monday with a 5-0 vote.

Trenary, 47, of Stanwood, is a captain at the sheriff’s office, where he’s worked since 1991.

He served as police chief for Stanwood, which contracts with the county for police services, from 2008 to 2012.

Trenary, a former leader of the union that represents sheriff’s deputies, also has worked as a sheriff’s office training manager and as a patrol supervisor.

Detective Sgt. James Upton, 53, of Monroe, also sought the job. He supervises detectives who investigate property crimes based out of the sheriff’s office South Precinct. Upton joined the sheriff’s office in 2003.

The sheriff is responsible for law enforcement in unincorporated Snohomish County, and provides that service under contract, including in Snohomish, Stanwood and Sultan. The sheriff’s office also runs the county jail. Combined, those operations include a staff of about 700 and an annual budget upwards of $100 million.

A looming concern for the new sheriff will be the jail, where at least seven inmates have died since 2010. The federal government earlier this month agreed to conduct a review of jail operations and medical services. Lovick in March requested that assistance from the National Institute of Corrections.

The sheriff’s post is nonpartisan, so candidates applied directly to the County Council.

The appointment followed a political domino effect created by Aaron Reardon’s resignation as county executive at the end of May. Reardon’s departure followed a series of scandals, most recently involving him and two members of his staff.

John Lovick, who had been sheriff, was appointed by the County Council to replace Reardon. Lovick, a retired state trooper and former state lawmaker, had been in the second year of his second term as sheriff.

Voters will cast ballots in a 2014 special election to determine who serves out the remaining year left on the sheriff’s term. A regular election for the four-year term is scheduled in 2015.

Both Upton and Trenary said they plan to run in those elections.

Navajos Launch Direct Action Against Big Coal

Photo by Black Mesa Water Coalition

Photo by Black Mesa Water Coalition

Sarah Lazare, June 21, 2013, Intercontinental Cry

Navajo Nation members launched a creative direct action Tuesday to protest the massive coal-fueled power plant that cuts through their Scottsdale, Arizona land.

After a winding march, approximately 60 demonstrators used a massive solar-powered truck to pump water from the critical Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal into barrels for delivery to the reservation.

Flanked by supporters from across the United States, tribe members created a living example of what a Navajo-led transition away from coal toward solar power in the region could look like.

Participants waved colorful banners and signs declaring ‘Power Without Pollution, Energy Without Injustice’.

“We were a small group moving a small amount of water with solar today,” declared Wahleah Johns with Black Mesa Water Coalition. “However if the political will power of the Obama Administration and SRP were to follow and transition NGS to solar all Arizonans could have reliable water and power without pollution and without injustice.”

The demonstration was not only symbolic: the reservation needs the water they were collecting.

While this Navajo community lives in the shadow of the Navajo Generating Station—the largest coal-powered plant in the Western United States—many on the reservation do not have running water and electricity themselves and are forced to make the drive to the canal to gather water for cooking and cleaning.

This is despite the fact that the plant—owned by Salt River Project and the U.S. Department of Interior—pumps electricity throughout Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Yet, the reservation does get one thing from the plant: pollution.

The plant is “one of the largest sources of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in the country,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

While plant profiteers argue it brings jobs to the area, plant workers describe harrowing work conditions. “We are the sweatshop workers for the state of AZ, declared Navajo tribe member Marshall Johnson. “We are the mine workers, and we are the ones that must work even harder so the rest don’t have to.”

These problems are not limited to this Navajo community. Krystal Two Bulls from Lame Deer, Missouri—who came to Arizona to participate in the action—explained, “We’re also fighting coal extraction that is right next to our reservation, which is directly depleting our water source.”

The action marked the kickoff to the national Our Power Campaign, under the banner of Climate Justice Alliance, that unites almost 40 U.S.-based organizations rooted in Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and working-class white communities to fight for a transition to just, climate friendly economies.

(Photo by Black Mesa Water Coalition)

(Photo by Black Mesa Water Coalition)

Indigenous Struggles to watch in the United States in Canada

Photo taken during Mathias Colomb Cree Nation shut down of access to HudBay Lalor mine.

Photo taken during Mathias Colomb Cree Nation shut down of access to HudBay Lalor mine.

John Ahni Schertow, Intercontinental Cry

With the constant barrage of news headlines we’re confronted with, it can be very difficult to get a good fix on what exactly is going on these days, especially if you don’t know where to look. Most news providers are only interested in the latest trends (and, of course, whatever’s going to pay the bills). They ignore everything else.

In light of that fact, we wanted to put together a short briefing of important indigenous struggles that are taking place right now in Canada and the United States.

Note: If you know of something that isn’t on this list, please feel free to mention it in the comments below. All additional struggles will be added to the end of this briefing.

Last Updated: March 15, 2013

Mi’kmaq

Citizens from two different Mi’kmaq communities recently carried out an 11-day hunger strike to oppose the Made in Nova Scotia Process and the Made in New Brunswick Process, two framework agreements that follow a nationwide template in Canada that aims to extinguish Aboriginal sovereignty and title. Ultimately, the chiefs taking part in the process did not opt entirely, however, they did agree to halt negotiations until their communities can become better educated as to exactly what is at stake. The Mi’kmaq of Unamaki, meanwhile, are still attempting to deal with a proposed shale gas fracking development project at Lake Ainslie, the largest freshwater lake in Cape Breton.

Pit River Tribe

The Pit River Tribe Of California unanimously affirmed their opposition to geothermal and other industrial developments in the sacred Medicine Lake Highlands, located in Northeastern California . In a recent public statement, the tribe explained that “Geothermal development in such a sensitive hallowed place will despoil the environment and harm the Pit River Tribe.” Pit River has been struggling against geothermal development in the region since the 1980s, when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sold geothermal development leases to three corporations without consulting anyone.

Red Lake Anishinaabe

The Red Lake Anishinaabe Nation recently stood up to Enbridge Energy LP, a company that is openly trespassing on Red Lake Ceded lands in Minnesota, operating multiple pipelines without an easement. Through their ongoing protest camp, Nizhawendaamin Indaakiminaan, a group of grassroots Red Lake tribal members and allies, are demanding that the flow of oil through these pipelines be stopped.’

Havasupai

The Havasupai Nation joined forces with three conservation groups to sue the U.S. Forest Service over its decision to allow Energy Fuels Resources, Inc. to begin operating a uranium mine near Grand Canyon National Park without initiating or completing formal tribal consultations and without updating an outdated 1986 federal environmental review. As stated in a recent joint press release, “The Canyon Mine threatens cultural values, wildlife and endangered species and increases the risk of soil pollution and pollution and depletion of groundwater feeding springs and wells in and near Grand Canyon.” For more on the active threat of uranium mining at the Grand Canyon, please see here.

Mathias Colomb Cree Nation

The Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (MCCN) and The Wilderness Committee are working to oppose Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company’s (Hudbay) new Reed Mine project in Grass River Provincial Park. Pointing to unaddressed environmental concerns and a lack of free, prior and informed consent, MCCN Chief Arlen Dumas recently explained, , “The Reed Lake mine proposed by Hudbay is within the unceded traditional territories of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation. This proposed mine raises serious concerns in relation to caribou populations, water quality, and carbon emissions. The province of Manitoba and the proponent, Hudbay, have failed to meet with MCCN, the true owners of these lands and resources, in good faith to obtain our free, informed and prior consent on any proposed activities within our territories.”

Muscogee-Creek

Hickory Ground Tribal Town member, Wayland Gray, Muscogee-Creek, was recently arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat for peacefully entering the construction site of the expansion of the Wind Creek Wetumpka Casino. Wayland, who was arrested with three others, entered the site to pray over the desecration of the grounds because it is where 57 ancestral remains were unceremoniously moved to make room for the casino expansion. Wayland has since been released form jail, however, the charge of uttering a terrorist threat remains. Watch a video of the arrest.

Innu

In Quebec, the Innu are continuing to reject the “North for all” plan, a massive economic, social, and environmental development project that will directly impact Innu tradition, culture, language and history. The Plan Nord is a multi-faceted resource-exploitation project that involves digging mines, expanding forestry, and damming a slew of rivers.

Lummi

The Lummi Nation is continuing to push against the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal at Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point), a sacred landscape the Lummi have relied on for over 3,500 years. The proposed terminal and shipping point would be used to export Powder River Basin coal to China. If built, the project will set the stage for the possible destruction of all live in the Salish Sea. As Jay Julius, member of Lummi Nation tribal council recently pointed out, it could also destroy underwater archaeological sites and upland burial grounds. Late last year, a wid spectrum of Native and non-Native Fishers joined the Lummi Nation to oppose the project.

Wolf Lake and Eagle Village

While not a struggle per se, there is a situation with a proposed ‘rare earth’ mine that we should keep an eye on, for obvious reasons. In western Ontario, Wolf Lake and Eagle Village First Nation have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Matamec Explorations Inc., over a proposed yttrium-zirconium mine. Rare earth mines have gained alot of attention over the past couple years for the notorious amount of pollution they produce. The two First Nations are undoubtedly aware of this, however, they have decided to take a facts-based approach concerning Algonquin cultural impacts social economic impacts and specific environmental impacts.

Lake St. Martin First Nation

The entire population of the Lake St. Martin First Nation continues to remain homeless after their reserve was drowned in water by the Manitoba government in 2011. As if the loss of their homes was not enough, the people of Lake St. Martin were left with no choice but to relocate to an old military base that has no infrastructure. For more on this, be sure to look at: Flooding Hope: Displacement Politics by the Province towards Lake St. Martin First Nation.

Dineh, Hopi and Zuni

A coalition of Indigenous and non-indigenous groups are working to stop the development of the Grand Canyon Escalade project at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. The $120 million resort and tramway project is being pushed forward by the Navajo Nation government despite the obvious risks to the environment and the cultural and spiritual well-being of the Dineh, Hopi and Zuni Peoples. Several groups have come together to stop the project, including the Diné Medicine Man Association, Inc., Forgotten People, Next Indigenous Generation, and the Grand Canyon Trust. Hopi leaders have also unanimously agreed to oppose the commercial initiative.

Ohlone, Miwok and Yokut

The Ohlone, Miwok and Yokut peoples are working to protect Brushy Peak, a sacred place near Livermore, California, that is a part of their origin stories. The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), which maintains and operates a system of regional parks within the San Francisco Bay Area, wants to turn the area into a recreational preserve against the wishes of the concerned Indigenous peoples. Buried Voices, a new documentary film by Michelle Steinberg, provides a great deal of insight into this ongoing struggle. Other recent struggles in the region include the effort to protect Glen Cove (Sogorea Te) and Rattlesnake Island.

Navajo, Hopi, Apache, Acoma, Zuni…

The long-running struggle to defend the San Fransisco Peaks continues in Arizona, despite the fact that the infamous Snowbowl has since become the first ski area in the world to make fake snow from 100% treated sewage waste water. Activists working to defend the Peaks lament that “We have temporally lost this battle with attacks on us from the U.S. Forest Service and the so called U.S. ‘judicial system’”. Nevertheless, they remain committed to stopping the production and use of the disgusting snow.

Anishinaabe

A group of Anishinaabe citizens from seven different communities/reservations in northern Minnesota are struggling to defend the sacred manoomin (wild rice) from the dire impacts of sulfate contamination. the group, known as Protect Our Manoomin is working specifically to oppose mining legislation that endangers manoomin and the ecosystem of northern Minnesota; and to educate and inform Anishinaabe communities of the imperilment of nonferrous mining. Companies that are currently threatening manoomin include PolyMet/Glencore, Twin Metals/Antofagasta, and Kennecott/Rio Tinto.

Ktunaxa

The Ktunaxa, meanwhile, are continuing to resist an impending cultural and environmental disaster in southeastern British Columbia. The Jumbo Glacier resort proposal, located in the heart of Qat’muk (GOT-MOOK), threatens critical grizzly bear habitat, and ignores the cultural and spiritual significance of the area to the Ktunaxa. According to Ktunaxa belief, Qat’muk is home to the Grizzly Bear Spirit, which makes it a culturally pivotal sacred site. The BC government, in order to move forward with the project, recently created the Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality (JGRM), a municipal body that doesn’t represent any actual people. The undemocratic body is being challenged in court.

Asubpeeschoseewagong

Grassy Narrows is gearing up for yet another court battle in their decade-long struggle against clearcut logging on their territory. In January, the Ontario Government began proceedings to overturn a major legal victory that was eleven years in the making. On August 16, 2011, Ontario Superior Court Justice Saunderson found that the Government of Ontario did not have the power to unilaterally take away rights outlined in Treaty 3. The province preposterously claims that Justice Saunderson’s analysis was the “antithesis of reconciliation.” Grassy Narrows meanwhile, continues to cope with the impacts of mercury pollution on their lands along with White Dog FN and some members of Wabauskang who lived at Quibell. In March 1962 Dryden Chemicals began dumping an estimated 10 metric tonnes of mercury into the Wabigoon River, contaminating the fish which formed the subsistence and economy of all three communities. The mercury was never cleaned up.

Dineh

Returning to Navajo territory, uranium companies are working double time to convince the Navajo nation to let them mine their “uranium-rich” land, despite the overwhelming number of abandon uranium mines that continue to pollute the territory. There are over 1000 abandon mines.

The Confederated Tribes of the Goshute

Elsewhere in the Southwest, the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute are stepping forward to stop a water pipeline that has been proposed by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA). According to the Protect Goshute Water website, the pipeline “would draw 150,000 acre feet per year from the Great Salt Lake Watershed Basin lowering the water table, drying up our springs, and fundamentally changing access to water over this vast region for plants, wildlife, and people.. Even a slight reduction in the water table will result in a cascade of wildlife and vegetation impacts directly harming our ability to engage in traditional practices of hunting, gathering, and fishing on ancestral lands.”

Cree

The Grand Council of the Crees just called on the Quebec government to move forward with its plan to convene an independent evaluation of the uranium industry in Quebec. The Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee has consistently stated its opposition to uranium mining in all its forms in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay territory. In August 2012, the Cree Nation enacted a permanent moratorium on uranium exploration, mining, milling and waste emplacement in Eeyou Istchee. The Crees are also intervening in the legal proceedings recently commenced against Environment Quebec by Strateco Resources, the proponent of the Matoush advanced uranium exploration project, the most advanced uranium project proposed to date in the Province.

Dene

The Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) and Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation (LKDFN) announced in February that they will not support the proposed Nechalacho rare earth mine at Thor Lake, about a 100 km southeast of Yellowknife. The project would exploit a total 15 rare earth metals – including radioactive ones like uranium and thorium. The YKDFN explained their opposition stems from a deteriorating relationship with the company behind the project and that the potential environmental impacts resulting from the project far exceed the perceived benefits.

Winnemem

The Winnemem Wintu Tribe and their allies are pushing against the proposed Shasta Dam expansion project, which would flood the Winnemem’s sacred sites for a second time! The proposed expansion also jeorpardizes the site of the Winnemem Coming of Age ceremony. Furthermore, in conjunction with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan it would also hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species.

Alutiiq, Cherokee, Chumash, Crow, Dakota, Euchee, Lakota, Mohawk, Navajo, Ojibwe, Salish, Sauk, Squamish Wampanoag…

Amidst these many struggles, there are numerous efforts around the continent dedicated to reclaiming, revitalizing, and securing traditional languages, many of which are on the brink of extinction. In Canada alone, there are over 60 communities working to record/document their languages before they are lost. As highlighted at Our Mother Tongues, language revitalization efforts include the Akwesasne Freedom School, the Chumash “Silent No More” project at the University of California at Berkeley, the Wicoie Nandagikendan: Dakota-Ojibwe Language Immersion Preschools and the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project. Also, The Squamish Lan­guage is making a come back; and efforts are underway for language reclamation at Shoal Lake. Then there is the Digital Indigenous Democracy project, described by Christa Couture of RPM.fm as “a remarkable endeavor that will bring interactive digital media to eight remote Baffin Island Inuit communities – communities whose 4,000 year-old oral language will become extinct without digital media to carry it forward into the next generation.” There are many other programs and efforts across the US and Canada; new ones are appearing all the time.

Attawapiskat First Nation

In recent months, the Cree community of Attawapiskat has held a constant presence in the news. Most notably, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence carried out a six week fast as a part of IdleNoMore; and let’s not forget the coordinated media effort to discredit her in order to weaken the IdleNoMore movement. Last month, members of Attawapiskat also set up a blockade on the road leading to the De Beers Victor mine with a second blockade by a different group of Attawapiskat citizens who wanted their own concerns addressed. Meanwhile, the reserve continues to cope with a long-standing housing shortage.

Wet’suwet’en

For more than 15 months, the Grassroots Wet’suwet’en peoples have maintained The Unist’ot’en Camp, a resistance community that was established to protect Wet’suwet’en territory from several proposed pipelines from the Tar Sands Gigaproject and shale gas from Hydraulic Fracturing Projects in the Peace River Region. Most recently, in November, the Wet’suwet’en of the C’ilhts’ekhyu and Likhts’amisyu Clans confronted, and escorted out, employees and drillers of the Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP) who were attempting to enter Wet’suwet’en lands without consent.

Aamjiwnaang

Aamjiwnaang is an Anishinaabe reserve located just outside of the city of Sarnia in Southwestern Ontario–an read well known as “Chemical Valley.” Home to 40% of Canada’s petrochemical industry, the Chemical Valley region experiences some of the worst air pollution in Canada. The Aamjiwnaang Reserve, boxed in by industry on three sides, bears the brunt of this pollution. Currently, two Aamjiwnaang band members, Ron Plain and Ada Lockridge, are confronting this with a lawsuit against the Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) and Suncor Corporation. Their argument is a simple one: they believe it is a basic human right to step outside one’s home and not breathe air harmful to one’s health. Another challenge faced by the community is the lack of legal protection from spills and intentional dumping of toxic chemicals within the reserve, a problem that is known very well by reserves across the country.

Blackfeet

For the past few years, the Blackfeet Nation in what is now northern Montana have been struggling with a problem that has now reached several reserves across the continent: the controversial practice known as fracking. In the case of the Blackfeet, who are one of three members of the Blackfoot Confederacy, fracking has not only harmed the land. It has also divided the Blackfeet People. Since 2009, the Blackfeet Nation Tribal Council has taken it upon itself to lease out 1 million acres or 66% of the reservation to three companies: Newfield, Anschutz Exploration, and Rosetta Resources. Blackfeet citizens have had little say in the actions of the Tribal Council, nor opportunities to learn about what is being done on their land. Fortunately, there are those among the Nation who are demanding accountability, transparency, and who wish to defend their land from the pollution of oil and fracking chemicals.

Kanai (Blood Tribe)

The Kanai, another member of the Blackfoot Confederacy, find themselves in much the same situation as their southern relatives, the Blackfeet. In this case, the Kanai Tribal and Business Councils signed almost half of the reserve over to oil companies, again, without any involvement from the citizenry. The situation gained major headlines in 2011 when three Kainai women carried out a protest on the Blood Reserve, in southern Alberta. Soon after the protest began, all three women were arrested and charged with trespassing and intimidation. Sadly, there have been no other major protests since then.

Athabasca Chipewyan

In northern Alberta, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) is trying to stop an oilsands expansion project on their traditional territory. Industrialization of the Denesuline community’s traditional territory has lead to the cumulative removal of lands, wildlife and fish habitat as well as the destruction of ecological, aesthetic and sensory systems. The expansion of Shell’s Jackpine Project would cause even more damage, specifically at Poplar Point, the heart of the ACFN homelands.

Barriere Lake Algonquins

For more than twenty years, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake have been struggling to get the governments of Canada and the Province of Quebec to honour the landmark 1991 Trilateral Agreement, an alternative to Canada’s preferred negotiation policy, called the “Comprehensive Land Claims.” Canada has tried every trick in the book in order to get out of the 1991 agreement, including placing the community under third party management using Section 74 of the Indian Act. The community has won some important victories over the last couple years – and one or two that were less than ideal – nevertheless, ABL presses on. Most recently, the Algonquins made there position clear on proposed exploration activities of the junior mining company Copper One.

First Nation Leadership Stands United With Tsilhqot’in Nation’s Opposition to Taseko Mines’ Controversial New Prosperity Mine

Source: Intercontinental Cry

Representatives of the First Nations Leadership Council, the BC Assembly of First Nations and the Tsilhqot’in Nation providing public comment in advance of the Federal Review Panel for the proposed New Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine project. The public hearing will begin in Williams Lake, B.C. on July 22, 2013, and will be completed within approximately 30 days.

“We are glad to work in solidarity with the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, First Nations Summit and the BC Assembly of First Nations on these issues of national importance as they affect Aboriginal people across Canada. We will be at the Supreme Court of Canada on November 7, 2013 for our Title Case and yet still we start panel hearings for the proposed Prosperity mine July 22, 2013. This proposed mine is within the Tsilhqot’in claim area and has already been denied once by the Minister of Environment. This is precedent setting and we will not back down,” said Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman of the Tsilhqot’in National Government. “Our own experience with this company, Taseko Mines Ltd., should inspire First Nations to stand up for your land, not cave in to industry and to express that development has to be on our terms – we need a meaningful say on our land and bad projects should not proceed in an area as sensitive and culturally important as Teztan Biny.”

“The Tsilhqot’in Nation has demonstrated extreme patience – we have said we are not opposed to economic development, but that this is the wrong project, in the wrong place and it cannot be approved,” stated Chief Roger William of Xeni Gwet’in “We will share with the Panel our unchangeable values and express our deep concerns of the threat to Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and the contamination of our lakes and streams. We firmly believe that like the last Panel, this review will demonstrate the extremely high risk that such a mine poses in such a sacred place.”

BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould remarked “Yesterday’s provincial Throne Speech spoke of securing non-treaty economic benefit agreements, finalizing long-term treaties and seeking additional revenue-sharing agreements. We all want opportunities for economic development but not at all costs. Our culture and lands are vitally critical to the health and well-being of our communities.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, said “This bad project is one of the first to be forced through the now gutted federal environmental review process borne out of the Harper Government’ omnibus bills C-38 and C-45. If this review fails to come to the same conclusion as the last one, then we’ll know that the changes to the EA process are indeed about approving disastrous and unscrupulous projects over the objections of First Nations and the general public and at the great expense to the environment.”

Robert Phillips, member of the Political Executive of the First Nations Summit, stated “This is also a test case of the federal government’s commitment to First Nations Title, Rights and Treaty Rights. If spending 20 years in court proving our rights means nothing at the end of the day, then we only see conflict on the ground.”

For further comment please contact:
Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair
Tsilhqot’in National Government 250-392-3918

Chief Roger William
Xeni Gwet’in 250-392-3918

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President
Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs 604-684-0231

Colin Braker, Communications Director
First Nations Summit 604-926-9903

Victory! Council of Yukon First Nations declares traditional lands “frack free”

John Ahni Schertow, Intercontinental Cry

On Friday, June 28, 2013, the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) passed resolution declaring their traditional lands to be “frack free” and calling on the Yukon government to prohibit all fracking in the territory.

The resolution reads:

Be it resolved that the Council of First Nations calls on the Yukon Govt. to prohibit fracking in the Yukon and declares our traditional territories to be frack-free.

As reported at Rabble.ca, “The resolution was passed by full consensus of the general assembly of those present.”

The Council of Yukon First Nations is a central political organization that represents eleven of the fourteen First Nation governments in the Yukon on a national and International level.

First Nation governments in the Yukon consist of:

  • Carcross/Tagish First Nation
  • Champagne and Aishihik First Nations
  • Ehdiitat Gwich’in Council
  • First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun
  • Gwichya Gwich’in Council
  • Kluane First Nation
  • Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation
  • Nihtat Gwich’in Council
  • Selkirk First Nation
  • Ta’an Kwach’an Council
  • Teslin Tlingit Council
  • Tetlit Gwich’in Council
  • Tr’ondek Hwech’in
  • White River First Nation

Squaxin Council Issues Quick Apology On Deer Killed By Canoers In Tribal Waters

Andy Walgamott, Northwest Sportsman

Reacting quickly to a disturbing video showing two canoeloads of men and a woman pursuing and killing a blacktail buck swimming in tribal waters of southern Puget Sound earlier this week, the Squaxin Tribal Council issued an apology, saying it is “deeply saddened” by the footage and called the chase “entirely improper and contrary” to its tribal beliefs and teachings.

The 12-plus-minute video surfaced on Facebook at midweek, shows one crewmember take a single swipe at the deer with his paddle, two others diving in to capture the animal, and then the apparent slitting of its throat alongside one of the two long cedar canoes.

It was shared around, a copy was made and posted to YouTube. We describe more about it here.

The council’s statement reads:

An Apology from Squaxin Island Tribal Council on Recent Events in the taking of a deer in Squaxin Island Waters.

“Recently, video footage of tribal people taking inappropriate actions in the taking of a deer in Squaxin Island Tribal waters came to the attention of the Squaxin Island Tribal Council. The Council is deeply saddened by the events depicted in the video, and wishes to make clear that such actions will not be tolerated, now or in the future. The actions of the individuals involved are entirely improper and are contrary to the beliefs and teachings of the Squaxin Island Tribe. The matter has been referred to the proper law enforcement agencies and the Tribe will take appropriate steps to address the actions of the individuals involved. As a Tribe, we are sorry that these actions occurred, and will take all steps necessary to see that they are not repeated.”

The statement was signed by all seven members of the council.

One of those members, Ray Peters, this morning said that he is a hunter who learned the proper way to harvest game from his family.

“I was always taught to respect animals and to honor what they give us,” he said.

“It was shameful,” Peters said of the “disturbing” video, and termed the deer “defenseless.”

“It does not depict the way we harvest animals,” he said.

Peters says the matter has been turned over to law enforcement.

“We’re not taking this lightly,” he said.

Officials are trying to identify the people involved. Peters said that while the canoes appear to be Squaxin craft, their paddlers’ tribal memberships have yet to be fully confirmed.

Mike Cenci, the deputy chief of enforcement for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, says that a search warrant was served on the pickup of one of the individuals — the man who allegedly slit the buck’s throat — at the man’s residence in another county.

Deer remains were found in a tote in the vehicle, he said. The truck was also seized.

He stressed that that man was “not affiliated with the Squaxin Tribe,” and that he was “well outside” his tribe’s ceded area.

Anyway, there is no tribal or state deer hunting season in that area that is currently open, he said.

And just as Peters was, Cenci was disturbed by the cruel pursuit and killing of the exhausted animal out of its element.

“We have a close working relationship with the Squaxin police and tribe. They immediately recognized that this act would negatively detract from a very important cultural event, and have taken it seriously from the moment it occurred,” Cenci noted.

The killing appears to have taken place during a practice run for this year’s traditional tribal canoe journey, coming up in August. The voyages were resurrected at the 100th anniversary of statehood and have continued every summer since. This year’s culminates at the Quinault Indian Reservation; First Lady Michelle Obama may attend.

The video sparked revulsion where it was originally posted on Facebook as well as on Hunting Washington, where it also stirred debate.

U.S. not waging ‘war on coal’: Energy Secretary Moniz

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz gestures during an interview with Reuters in Vienna June 30, 2013.Photo: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz gestures during an interview with Reuters in Vienna June 30, 2013.
Photo: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

Fredrik Dahl, Reuters

The U.S. government is not waging a “war on coal” but rather expects it to still play a significant role, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Sunday, rejecting criticism of President Barack Obama’s climate change plan.

Obama tried last week to revive his stalled climate change agenda, promising new rules to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants and other domestic actions including support for renewable energy.

The long-awaited plan drew criticism from the coal industry, which would be hit hard by carbon limits, and Republicans, who accused the Democratic president of advancing policies that harm the economy and kill jobs. Environmentalists largely cheered the proposals, though some said the moves did not go far enough.

Obama “expects fossil fuels, and coal specifically, to remain a significant contributor for some time,” Moniz told Reuters in Vienna, where he was to attend a nuclear security conference.

The way the U.S. administration is “looking at it is: what does it take for us to do to make coal part of a low carbon future,” he said, adding this would include higher efficiency plants and new ways of utilizing coal.

It is “all about having, in fact, coal as part of that future,” Moniz said. “I don’t believe it is a ‘war on coal’.”

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, the No. 2 U.S. coal mining state after Wyoming, said last week that Obama had “declared a war on coal,” and the industry said the rules threatened its viability.

Moniz acknowledged there could be winners and losers but that economic models belie “the statement that there are huge economic impacts” from controlling greenhouse gases.

“Quite the contrary. We expect that this is going to be positive for the economy,” he said.

Obama said he had directed the Environmental Protection Agency to craft new emissions rules for thousands of power plants, the bulk of which burn coal and which account for roughly one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

With Congress unlikely to pass climate legislation, Obama said his administration would set rules using executive powers.

Moniz said he was optimistic that the United States would meet its goal to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. “We’re pretty close to the track right now. We’re halfway there,” he said.

An $8 billion loan guarantee program for projects to develop new technologies that help cut emissions of fossil fuels would include carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) as “one of a number of options,” he said.

“It will also include some advanced technologies for using coal very different from today’s technologies that will enable much less expensive carbon capture in future,” Moniz said.

CCS is a relatively new, expensive and unproven technology that captures carbon dioxide and buries it.