Coast Salish Nations Unite to Protect Salish Sea

salish-seas-protection-graphic

Coast Salish Sea Tribes and Nations

The Lummi, Swinomish, Suquamish and Tulalip tribes of Washington, and the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam Nations in British Columbia stand together to protect the Salish Sea. Our Coast Salish governments will not sit idle while Kinder Morgan’s proposed TransMountain Pipeline, and other energy-expansion and export projects, pose a threat to the environmental integrity of our sacred homelands and waters, our treaty and aboriginal rights, and our cultures and life ways.

The Salish Sea is one of the world’s largest and unique marine water inland seas. It is home to the aboriginal and treaty tribes of the Northwest whose shared ecosystem includes Washington State’s Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the San Juan Islands, British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and the Strait of Georgia.

In December 2013, Kinder Morgan, the third largest energy producer in North America, filed an application with the National Energy Board (“NEB”) of Canada to build a new pipeline to transport additional crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta to Vancouver, B.C., where it will be put on tanker vessels and shipped to Asia. The NEB is the Canadian federal agency that regulates energy.

If approved, the proposal would result in expanded transport of crude oil from approximately 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day. This is a 200 percent increase in oil tanker traffic through the waters of the Salish Sea. Vessel groundings, accidents, leaks, and oil spills are not only possible, they are inevitable.

New jobs and economic growth are being touted as incentives to justify the expansion of the Northwest as the “gateway to the Pacific.” But good fishing and tourism jobs will be lost that depend on a healthy and intact environment. If these projects are approved, the potentially catastrophic effects to our environment and cultural resources will put our Northwest way of life in jeopardy.

In addition to the Kinder Morgan proposal, other port projects and expansions seek to increase the cumulative export of raw fossil fuels from the Salish Sea region to the Asian Pacific and beyond.

As the first peoples of the Salish Sea, it is our responsibility to ensure that our ancestral fishing and harvesting grounds are not reduced to a glorified highway for industry. Each of these proposals represents a potential new threat to our treaty rights in the traditional fishing areas of the Coast Salish tribes and nations. These are rights that the United States promised to protect when they signed treaties with the tribes, recognizing our inherent right to fish “at usual and accustomed grounds and stations.” (1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, Article 5.)

Our relatives to the east, on the sacred Columbia River, are fighting similar battles against dirty fuel projects that threaten to pollute their lands and waters. The Nez Perce stand firm on ensuring that this unique area of the country and tribal homelands are not transformed into a “mega-load” industrial corridor.

Other Columbia River tribes, including the Yakama, Umatilla, and Warm Springs all stand with the Nez Perce to fight for their traditional fishing grounds on the Columbia River and its tributaries. Multiple energy export proposals, up and down the river, threaten to choke the very life from a once bountiful traditional fishing ground. Coast Salish tribes link arms with their cousins along the Columbia.

On February 11, 2014, the undersigned tribes and nations collectively filed for official intervener status in the National Energy Board (NEB) of Canada’s hearing process that decides whether or not to approve Kinder Morgan’s application. This will allow us to present our story, offer evidence and studies documenting impacts on our way of life, and ask important questions during the hearings to ensure the panel receives all the information needed to make an informed decision.

The Coast Salish will fight for our treaty rights, our culture, and our way of life. If protecting our homelands and cultures means standing up against Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain Pipeline, and other proposals that endanger our region, we will most certainly do so. It is our sacred duty to leave future generations a healthy world.

If our children and our children’s children are to know the taste of wild salmon, and the ancient calling of the Salish Sea, we must stand up. The Coast Salish peoples have a saying, “from white caps to white caps,” which means from the snowy peaks of our mountains to the foam-capped waves of our seas, this is our world.

We issue a call to all Native Americans, First Nations relatives, and to all people who love the Salish Sea to please stand with us to protect our rights, our health, and our children’s future. It is our generation’s time to stand up and fight. What happens to the Salish Sea happens to our peoples, and to all those who call this unique place home.

“When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money,” according to Cree prophecy.

We urge you to share your objections to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline with President Barack Obama and Governor Jay Inslee before a decision is made by writing and calling:

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

202-456-1111

Whitehouse.gov/contact/write-or-call#write

 

Governor Jay Inslee

Office of the Governor

PO Box 40002

Olympia, WA 98504-0002

360-902-4111

Governor.wa.gov/contact/default.asp

Chairman Brian Cladoosby, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

Chairman Melvin Sheldon Jr., Tulalip Tribes

Chairman Leonard Forsman, Suquamish Tribe

Chairman Tim Ballew II, Lummi Nation

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/02/17/coast-salish-nations-unite-protect-salish-sea

Kinder Morgan Pipeline Threatens Ecology and Economy of Salish Tribes

Tribes on both sides of the border intervene in proceeding to address tanker traffic and oil spill risks

A boy pulls salmon from a net.Photo Courtesy of Tulalip Tribes

A boy pulls salmon from a net.
Photo Courtesy of Tulalip Tribes

Press Release, Office of Public Affairs, Tulalip Tribes, Earth Justice

 

Seattle, WA; Vancouver, BC — Opposition to Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain proposed pipeline project ramped up today as Coast Salish peoples on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border vowed to oppose the project as intervenors before Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB). Coast Salish intervenors include the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Tulalip Tribes, Lummi Nation, and Suquamish Tribe in Washington state, and the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations in British Columbia. The deadline for application to participate in the NEB process was last night at midnight.

“Over the last 100 years, our most sacred site, the Salish Sea, has been deeply impacted by our pollution-based economy,” said Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby. “Every kind of pollution ends up in the Salish Sea. We have decided no more and we are stepping forward. It is up to this generation and future generations to restore and protect the precious waters of the Salish Sea.”

“Our people are bound together by our deep connection to Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea. We are the ‘People of the Inlet’ and we are united in our resolve to protect our land, water and air from this risky project,” said Chief Maureen Thomas of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. “We will use all lawful means to oppose it. This is why we have applied to intervene in the NEB hearing process.”

In December, Kinder Morgan filed an application with the NEB to build a new pipeline to bring tar sands oil from Alberta to Vancouver, B.C. The NEB is the Canadian federal agency that regulates interprovincial energy infrastructure. It is responsible for reviewing, recommending and regulating major energy projects, such as the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

If approved, the proposal would see the transport of tar sands oil expanded from its present level of approximately 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. With an almost seven-fold increase in oil tankers moving through the shared waters of the Salish Sea, an increase in groundings, accidents, incidents, leaks and oil spills is inevitable.

Experts have acknowledged that a serious oil spill would devastate an already-stressed marine environment and likely lead to collapses in the remaining salmon stocks and further contamination of shellfish beds, wiping out Indigenous fishing rights.

“The fishing grounds of the Salish Sea are the lifeblood of our peoples. We cannot sit idly by while these waters are threatened by reckless increases in oil tanker traffic and increased risk of catastrophic oil spill,” said Mel Sheldon, Chairman of the Tulalip Tribes.

The proposed tar sands pipeline expansion is one of several projects that would dramatically increase the passage of tankers, bulk carriers, and other vessels through Salish Sea shipping routes and adjacent waters on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. In addition to oil, regulators in both countries are reviewing controversial proposals to export huge quantities of U.S. coal. Taken together, these projects would greatly increase the risk of oil spills and other accidents that threaten the Coast Salish economies and cultures.

“Today we are taking a stand to honour our ancient connection to the Salish Sea. The threat of oil spills and industrial pollution continue to threaten our way of life.” said Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation. “We stand in unity with all who care about the health of the Salish Sea and defend it for future generations.”

Chairman Timothy Ballew III of the Lummi Nation stated, “I am a fisherman, a father and a member of the great Lummi Nation. As the northernmost Washington Treaty Tribe of the Boldt Decision, we are the stewards the Salish Sea and will not allow the Kinder Morgan proposal along our waterways that will threaten our harvesting areas and further the detrimental impacts to the environment and natural resources.”

Read an FAQ on the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline expansion.