Hawks lose to Lummi Nation in last regular season game, 45-58

By Tulalip News staff

LUMMI – Tulalip Heritage Hawks ended their regular season with a game against rival Lummi Nation Blackhawks on Thursday, January 29.  The Hawks, who made the trek to Lummi for the game, were banking on a win before entering district games.

Going into the second quarter the Hawks tied the game at 17-17 but quickly lost the lead going into halftime. Unable to secure a lead over Lummi the Hawks took a loss with a final score of 45-58, leaving them as the second place Northwest 1B league leader.

Both teams will enter the 1B league  2015 District 1 Boys Basketball Tournament on February 7, played at Mount Vernon Christian High School.



Hawks take loss against rival Lummi Nation Blackhawks, 49-62

Heritage Hawk Ayrik Miranda takes the ball down the court, Friday, Jan. 9 , 2015, in game against Lummi Nation Blackhawks. (Tulalip News/ Michael Rios)

Heritage Hawk Ayrik Miranda takes the ball down the court, Friday, Jan. 9 , 2015, in game against Lummi Nation Blackhawks. (Tulalip News/ Michael Rios)

By Michael Rios, Tulalip News
TULALIP – The 8-2 Tulalip Heritage Hawks lost again to rivals 9-0 Lummi Nation Blackhawks Friday night in a game that the Hawks led 17-8 after the first quarter.
The Blackhawks used a full court trapping defense throughout the second and third quarter that forced the Hawks into making errant passes, resulting in easy transition buckets for the still unbeaten Lummi Blackhawks. With the win Lummi all but secures the number one seed in the district playoffs.
(Tulalip News/ Michael Rios)

(Tulalip News/ Michael Rios)

Lummi Nation asks Army Corps to reject Cherry Point coal terminal

Then-Lummi Nation Chairman Clifford Cultee, left, and Hereditary Chief Bill James speak at a 2012 protest against a proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point. The tribe sent a letter on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, asking the agency to reject a permit application for the coal terminal because it would interfere with tribal fishing grounds. PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Then-Lummi Nation Chairman Clifford Cultee, left, and Hereditary Chief Bill James speak at a 2012 protest against a proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point. The tribe sent a letter on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, asking the agency to reject a permit application for the coal terminal because it would interfere with tribal fishing grounds. PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD


BY RALPH SCHWARTZ, The Bellingham Herald


Lummi Nation sent  a letter on Monday, Jan. 5, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, asking the agency to immediately reject a permit application for a coal terminal at Cherry Point because it would interfere with tribal fishing grounds.

An environmental group in Bellingham called the action “historic.”

Lummi Nation cited its rights under a treaty with the United States to fish in its “usual and accustomed” areas, which include the waters around Cherry Point. A court decision in 2000 clarified the Lummi fishing territory, first established in 1855, to include northern Puget Sound from the Fraser River to Seattle, with the exception of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Hood Canal.

“The Lummi have harvested at this location since time immemorial and plan to continue into the future,” said the Lummi letter, signed by Chairman Tim Ballew. “The proposed project will impact this significant treaty harvesting location and will significantly limit the ability of tribal members to exercise their treaty rights.”

The letter was authorized by the Lummi Indian Business Council on Wednesday, Dec. 31.

A manager at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities in Bellingham said in a message to members that the Lummis had made “an historic announcement.”

“This is a critical development in the fight to block the Cherry Point coal terminal,” wrote Matt Petryni, clean energy program manager at RE Sources.

Past case law suggests Gateway Pacific Terminal could be in trouble. The corps rejected a permit in 1992 for a salmon farm in Rosario Strait on the grounds that the farm, though no larger on the surface than 1.41 acres, would interfere with Lummi fishing. The decision withstood a challenge in U.S. District Court.

“There’s a precedent for a threshold of impact on treaty rights,” Ballew said. “I trust that the Corps will uphold its constitutional responsibility.”

Officials for Gateway Pacific Terminal said they could not comment before the deadline for this story.

The coal terminal, if approved by federal and state agencies, and Whatcom County, would ship up to 48 million metric tons of coal annually to Asian ports, starting as early as 2019.

While environmentalists who have actively opposed the coal terminal for years celebrated, they didn’t declare victory.

“One of the things I’m sure of is that the Corps will respond to the gravity of this statement,” said Crina Hoyer, RE Sources’ executive director. “What the ultimate end result will be, it may be decided in the court.”

Corps officials said they will review the 97-page document submitted to them on Monday by the tribe. If the Corps finds that treaty-protected fishing would be disrupted to any significant degree, it will pass the information along to project applicant SSA Marine of Seattle for review.

“We generally ask the applicant to coordinate with the relevant tribes and to resolve the issue,” the Corps said in a statement on Monday.

Lummi Nation consistently has opposed the coal terminal publicly. Tribal members in 2012  burned a symbolic check representing a presumed buy-out from the coal industry. Last year, the tribe toured the western U.S. and Canada with a  totem pole to raise awareness of their opposition to fossil-fuel transport. The tribe also has criticized Gateway Pacific Terminal in written comments to permitting agencies.

“This is the strongest statement that we’ve seen from the Lummi Nation,” Hoyer said.

A  report released last month provided preliminary evidence that the terminal would impede tribal fishing. The vessel traffic study, developed by SSA Marine and Lummi Nation with oversight by the state Department of Ecology, indicated that cargo ships and other traffic for Gateway Pacific Terminal would increase the number of vessels in north Puget Sound by 15 percent. Vessel traffic in the vicinity of Cherry Point would increase 33 percent. The risk of oil spills also would increase.

Those results,  released on Dec. 18, were not taken to be final. Ecology officials emphasized that further study of vessel traffic would be included in a draft of the environmental impact statement on the coal terminal, expected in early 2016.

Even so, the Lummis mentioned the vessel traffic study in their letter to the Corps.

“Review of the impacts associated with this project, including … (the vessel traffic study) lead to the inescapable conclusion that the proposed project will directly result in the substantial impairment of the treaty rights of the Lummi Nation,” the letter said.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2015/01/05/4061757_lummi-nation-asks-army-corps-to.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy


Tribal leaders, Commissioner warn of oil train dangers

Washington’s people and environment potentially at risk

Press Release: Washington State Department of Natural Resources

OLYMPIA – Increased oil train traffic on Washington’s aging rail system puts the state’s people and ecosystems at risk, according to an opinion piece by ten tribal leaders and the Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, published today in the Seattle Times.

“Crude By Rail: Too Much, Too Soon” calls for federal regulators to improve safety protocols and equipment standards on Washington rail lines to deal with a forty-fold increase in oil train traffic since 2008. Trains carrying crude oil are highly combustible and, if derailed, present serious threats to public safety and environmental health.

Tim Ballew II, chairman of the Lummi Nation; Jim Boyd, chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation; Brian “Spee~Pots” Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community; William B. Iyall, chairman of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe; Maria Lopez, chairwoman of the Hoh Indian Tribe; David Lopeman, chairman of the Squaxin Island Tribe; Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation; Charles Woodruff, chairman of the Quileute Tribe; Herman Williams Sr., chairman of the Tulalip Tribes; and Gary Burke, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation joined Commissioner Goldmark in urging policymakers to address critical issues around the increase of oil train traffic through the state.

“The Northwest has suffered from a pollution-based economy,” said Cladoosby in a statement. “We are the first peoples of this great region, and it is our responsibility to ensure that our ancestral fishing, hunting and gathering grounds are not reduced to a glorified highway for industry. Our great teacher, Billy Frank, Jr., taught us that we are the voices of the Salish Sea and salmon, and we must speak to protect them. If we cannot restore the health of the region from past and present pollution, how can we possibly think we can restore and pay for the impact of this new and unknown resource?

“We are invested in a healthy economy, but not an economy that will destroy our way of life. We will not profit from this new industry, but rather, we as citizens of the Northwest will pay, one way or another, for the mess it will leave behind in our backyard. We will stand with Commissioner Goldmark and our fellow citizens and do what we need so those who call this great state home will live a healthy, safe and prosperous life,” said Cladoosby.

“Good public policy demands that we make informed decisions using information based on the best science and perspective that must include cultural values and traditional knowledge,” said Quinault President Fawn Sharp. According to her statement, the Quinault Tribe is leading a movement against three oil terminals in Grays Harbor and most recently joined more than 700 Washington state citizens to testify at an October hearing held by the Department of Ecology.

“The Quinault are national leaders of long-standing in natural resources protection and strive to protect the oceans and waterways across the Northwest,” said Sharp.

For Tulalip Chairman Herman Williams, Sr., endangerment of fish runs by oil train pollution is a key concern.

“For generations we have witnessed the destruction of our way of life, our fishing areas, and the resources we hold dear,” said Williams in a statement. “The Boldt decision very clearly interpreted the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott to reserve 50 percent of the salmon and management to the tribes. The federal government must now partner with tribes to protect the 50 percent of what remains of our fishing rights. The Tulalip Tribes will not allow our children’s future to be taken away for a dollar today. Our treaty rights are not for sale,” said Williams.

According to Commissioner Goldmark, tribal leadership on the oil train issue is essential.

“Tribal leaders bring unique perspective and concern about threats to our treasured landscapes,” said Goldmark. “It’s an honor to join them in this important message about the growth of oil train traffic in our state and the threat it poses to public safety, environmental sustainability, and our quality of life.”

Changes on Lummi Nation Council

Richard Walker, Indian Country Today

Cheryl Kinley-Sanders is the new vice chairwoman of the Lummi Nation. She was elected to the post by her council colleagues after the swearing in of new council members on November 4.

Kinley-Sanders, elected to the council in 2013, is vice chairwoman of the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State. She is also a commissioner of Whatcom County Fire Protection District No. 8.

Rita Jefferson and Celina Phair were elected November 1 to the Lummi Indian Business Council, the governing body of the Lummi Nation. They were elected to positions A and B, succeeding Darrell Hillaire, who chose not to seek reelection, and Bernie Thomas. Tim Ballew II and Jay Julius were reelected to positions C and D.

After the oaths of office were administered, the council voted to retain Ballew as chairman, and elected Kinley-Sanders vice chairwoman and Jefferson treasurer.

Others continuing on the council: Cliff Cultee, position E; Henry Cagey, position F; Johnny Felix, position G; Julie Finkbonner, position H; Shasta Cano-Martin, position I; Cheryl Sanders, position J; and Steven Toby, position K.

The Lummi Indian Business Council is influential in the Northwest. The Lummi reservation comprises 21,000 acres– including uplands and tidelands on the Lummi Peninsula and Portage Island – but Lummi exercises cultural, environmental and political influence throughout its historical territory, which includes the San Juan Islands. The Lummi Nation has more than 5,000 citizens, 78 percent of whom live on or near the reservation boundaries.

Lummi Nation economic enterprises include Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa, with 105 guest rooms, restaurants, and a convention and event center; Fisherman’s Cove Marina, home of the largest fishing fleet in the region; and Gateway Center, home of Gateway Café, Salish Arts Market, and Seafood Market. The Lummi Community Development Financial Institution provides opportunities for housing and business development through loan products, financial education, and business coaching.

The Lummi Nation has a Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office, which is at the forefront of efforts to protect cultural resources and the environment; and the Lummi Natural Resources Department manages fisheries and forestry, operates finfish and shellfish hatcheries, and is exploring clean energy development.

“We’re leaders on a national and international level – climate change, GWE (General Welfare Exclusion Act), taxation and fisheries issues,” Cano-Martin said in an earlier interview.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/11/14/changes-lummi-nation-council-157805

Lummi Nation closes shellfish harvesting in part of Portage Bay because of pollution

Ralph Solomon holds clams at the sea sea pond on the Lummi Reservation in this 2003 photo, shortly before the tribe reopened shellfish beds closed in 1997 due to poor water quality. Fecal coliform contamination has again led Lummi Nation to close 335 acres of shellfish beds in September 2014.THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Ralph Solomon holds clams at the sea sea pond on the Lummi Reservation in this 2003 photo, shortly before the tribe reopened shellfish beds closed in 1997 due to poor water quality. Fecal coliform contamination has again led Lummi Nation to close 335 acres of shellfish beds in September 2014.


By: Bellingham Herald

LUMMI RESERVATION — Lummi Nation has closed 335 acres in Portage Bay to shellfish harvesting because of worsening water quality caused by fecal coliform bacteria.

The tribe consulted with the state Department of Health and volunteered to do so Sept. 3 after levels exceeded federal standards for commercial shellfish harvest.

Portage Bay is home to Lummi Nation’s ceremonial, subsistence and commercial shellfish beds.

Fecal coliform bacteria come from human and animal feces. The bacteria enter Whatcom County’s waterways in several ways — horse and cow manure, pet and wildlife waste, and failing septic systems — and indicate there could be pathogens absorbed by the shellfish that may sicken people who eat them.

The closure affects about 200 families on Lummi Reservation who make a living harvesting shellfish and as many as 5,000 tribal members who rely on Portage Bay shellfish for ceremonial and subsistence needs, according to the tribe.

This isn’t the first time the tribe has closed its shellfish beds in Portage Bay because of fecal coliform pollution. They did so in 1996 because of high levels of fecal coliform in the Nooksack River and streams that empty into Portage Bay.

At that time, the state Department of Ecology and the Environmental Protection Agency led a cleanup plan using state legislation approved in 1998 that required dairy farms to undergo routine inspections and create written plans for how they would contain manure and prevent it from washing into public waterways. Before 1998, dairy farms were inspected only if a complaint was made about a farmer.

Failing septic systems and municipal sewage systems also were addressed.

The effort cleaned up the Nooksack River and its tributaries and allowed 625 acres of tribal shellfish beds to reopen in 2003, and the last 115 acres to reopen three years later.

That decade cost the tribal community about $8.5 million in revenue, Lummi Nation said in a news release.

But in recent years, the Lummis have expressed concern about water quality once again degrading because cuts to budgets and enforcement created regulatory gaps.

“Everybody knows the reason that this is happening is there’s a lack of compliance and a lack of enforcement,” said Merle Jefferson, director of Lummi Natural Resources Department.

Lummi Tribal Chairman Timothy Ballew II echoed those concerns.

“Failure of our upstream partners to follow the policies developed to respond to the last closure has led to this disaster,” Ballew said in a news release. “Immediate actions are needed to right the problem. We are committed to doing the work required that will reopen the shellfish beds.”

Multiple agencies at the federal, state, local and tribal level are once again coordinating their efforts to lower fecal coliform in Whatcom County’s waterways, with county officials saying that the levels in the Nooksack River and Portage Bay have increased in the past five years.

That push includes a proposal for the County Council to create a locally driven, and ongoing, effort called the Whatcom County Pollution Identification and Correction Program. It goes before the County Council on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

“We feel like we’re making progress,” said Doug Allen, manager of Ecology’s Bellingham field office. “I’m still confident that we’re going to turn this around. It’s going to take all of us working really hard to do it.”

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/09/26/3879712_lummi-nation-closes-shellfish.html?sp=/99/100/&rh=1#storylink=cpy

2014 totem pole journey honors tribes’ stewardship of land, water

By Jewell James, courtesy to the Bellingham Herald August 11, 2014 

For generations, tribal peoples have witnessed the impact of faceless “persons” — corporations — on the land, water, air and human and environmental health. Though at times consulted, we have not been heard as a real voice in defending our traditional homeland territories. Instead, we have seen and experienced degradation of environmental integrity and destruction of healthy ecosystems. We suffered as our traditional foods and medicines were lost, and our people’s health plunged.

The Lummi, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, and all Coast Salish tribes, face devastating proposals that would bring coal by rail from Montana and Wyoming to the West Coast for export overseas. Indeed, the Cherry Point (in our language, Xwe’chi’eXen) proposal poses a tremendous ecological, cultural and socio-economic threat to Pacific Northwest tribes.

Xwe’chi’eXen is a 3,500-year-old village site where many of our ancestors lived and made their final resting places. Today, 60 percent of Lummis have direct ancestral ties to this site. Around it, the Salish Sea supports a Lummi fishing fleet (450 vessels) that feeds and supports tribal families.

Coal exports threaten all of this. We fear the desecration of Xwe’chi’eXen, the first archaeological site to be placed on the Washington State Register of Historic Places. We wonder how Salish Sea fisheries, already impacted by decades of pollution and global warming, will respond to the toxic runoff from the water used for coal piles stored on site. How will Bellingham’s recreational and commercial boaters navigate when more than 400 cape-sized ships, each 1,000 feet long, depart Cherry Point annually — each bearing 287,000 tons of coal? What will happen to the region’s air quality as coal trains bring dust and increase diesel pollution? And of course, any coal burned overseas will come home to our state as mercury pollution in our fish, adding to the perils of climate change.

Already, coal export officials have shown breathtaking disrespect for our heritage. To save time and boost profits, Pacific International Terminals bulldozed what they knew to be a registered archaeological site and drained our wetlands without a permit.

This proposal is not based on economic necessity. The inflated number of jobs promised is an old, old story; one filled with promises made, and broken. At the end of the day there would be far fewer jobs created and many sustainable jobs lost or compromised. The defeat of this madness is our aboriginal duty as the first Americans, but it also speaks to the collective interest of all citizens and — most importantly — as members of the human family who are part of, not masters over, creation. But this is a new day.

To those who would sacrifice the way of life of all peoples of the Pacific Northwest, we say: Take notice. Enough is enough! This summer’s proposed changes to the site design are beside the point. Mitigation is not the issue. We will stop the development of the export terminal and put in its place a plan that honors our shared responsibility to the land and waters of Xwe’chi’eXen and all our relations.

In August we make our journey from South Dakota to the Salish Sea and north to Alberta, Canada, stopping with many of the tribal and local communities whose lives unwillingly intersect with the paths of coal exports and tar sands. We will carry with us a 19-foot-tall totem that brings to mind our shared responsibility for the lands, the waters and the peoples who face environmental and cultural devastation from fossil fuel megaprojects. We travel in honor of late elder, and leader, and guiding light Billy Frank, Jr., who would remind us that we are stewards placed here to live with respect for our shared, sacred obligation to the creation, the plants and animals, the peoples and all our relations. He guides us, still. Our commitment to place, to each other, unites us as one people, one voice to call out to others who understand that our shared responsibility is to leave a better, more bountiful world for those who follow.

We welcome you to the blessing of the journey at 9:30 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 17 at the Lummi Tribal Administration Center, 2665 Kwina Road.


Jewell James is a member of the Lummi Nation and head carver of the Lummi House of Tears Carvers.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/08/11/3792147/2014-totem-pole-journey-honors.html?sp=/99/122/#storylink=cpy

Field Notes: a Visit to Lummi Nation’s Sacred Summit and the Protection of the Salish Sea

By Ana Chamgoulova, Summer Law Student Volunteer at West Coast Environmental Law, 25 June, 2014


The 10 day Water Festival hosted by The Lummi Nation of Washington State wrapped up on June 22nd. I had the opportunity to attend part of the festival, along with another law student volunteer and WCEL Staff Lawyer, Eugene Kung. The part we were present for was the Stommish Sacred Summit, which consisted of a day of presentations on the topic of Sacred Obligations, a talk by Winona LaDuke, and a rally against a proposed coal port in the Salish Sea. These events hold great relevance for the environmental movement and the fight against fossil fuel projects in Canada.



The Lummi are Coast Salish people, whose combined traditional territory stretches throughout the Pacific Northwest, from the northern limits of the Strait of Georgia through Puget Sound (together known as the Salish Sea), and covers present-day Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle. The Lummi have close trade, cultural and family ties with Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueum, the Coast Salish First Nations that may be more familiar to the Canadian audience. The Oregon Treaty of 1846, which set the present-day Canada-USA boundary, determined their divergent courses of history. And yet, as my fellow law student volunteer Elizabeth Zarpa put it:

Their lineage and kinship with other Coast Salish nations stretches across international boundaries here in Canada. The struggles which they face against natural resource companies imposing pipelines, railways and tankers throughout their territories is similar to what other First Nations in Canada experience.

Stommish Sacred Summit

The Water Festival includes such events as a film festival, canoe races, a carnival and the Sacred Summit, and it is part of the cultural revitalization efforts by the Lummi Nation. The Sacred Summit in particular was organized in accordance with the Lummi traditional laws, opening with a prayer and selection of prominent community members to act as witnesses. I am personally always honoured and excited to attend such events, because of the palpable resilience and sacredness of Indigenous traditions. It helps that there is usually bannock being served.
The day’s events were held in a giant longhouse supported with massive cedar trunks, some of which have been carved into beautiful totem poles.


The day began with welcomings from elected council member Jay Julius and Hereditary Chief Tsilixw. Despite the two representing different sources of leadership, one from a Tribal Council established by the United States government and the other from a traditional system of governance, they both spoke about the sacred obligation to protect the environment in their traditional territory. To them, the environment is not something external to human life, but is the source of their livelihood. Lummi have survived and thrived off of salmon, clams, mussels and other seafood abundant throughout the Salish Sea since time immemorial.

Resource extraction projects would inevitably contaminate the coastal waters and the seafood and so they would threaten the very way of life of the Lummi. The idea of protecting the environment is not just rhetoric for them, but is a matter of survival and sacred duty. We also heard from Jewell James, who Environmental Law Alert readers may remember as the master carver and spiritual leader that gifted a totem pole to the Tsleil-Waututh as a symbol of solidarity among Coast Salish Nations opposing destructive fossil fuel projects.

The Canadian Connection

The cross-border links became even more obvious when the two Canadian guests spoke: Rueben George, the Sundance Chief of Tsleil-Waututh, and Eugene Kung, staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law. Rueben spoke of the shared culture of the Lummi and Tsleil-Waututh. Despite the many years of being separated by an international border, their shared understanding of the responsibility for the environment persists. For the Tsleil-Waututh, the idea of sacred obligations to the environment found expression in the Sacred Trust Initiative, whose goal is stopping the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Their resistance was motivated by their experience with the existing pipeline, which has had four major leaks since 2005. Because of this and other industrial developments in the Burrard Inlet, it has been harder and harder for the Tsleil-Waututh to practice their traditional way of life. Rueben doesn’t want this to happen to the Lummi, and he encouraged them to keep up their fight against the local resource extraction projects.

Eugene then spoke more specifically about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion proposal, the flawed National Energy Board process, and the legal aspects of the resistance to this project. This Canadian project is important for the Lummi, because the tanker traffic, set to increase to 400 tankers a year, would cross their territory and threaten their water as well.

The environment transcends national borders, contaminants transcend national borders, just as the environmental movements and the Coast Salish culture should transcend national borders. Eugene also explained how strong indigenous laws can help the greater environmental movement through such legal tools as the duty to consult and accommodate where Aboriginal rights and title are involved.

Coal Port at Cherry Point

The Lummi are facing their own fossil fuel project: a proposal to build a deep-water marine terminal at Cherry Point, which would become North America’s largest coal port, exporting up to 54 million dry metric tons per year. The project got off to a rocky start with the Lummi Nation, when in 2011 the company behind the proposal failed to obtain government permits for some preliminary work but went ahead with it anyway and ended up disturbing an ancient burial site. Now, as the Sacred Trust Initiative reports, “The Lummi Nation is concerned not only about the destruction of their sacred sites, but also about the deterioration in air quality and contamination of water and soil as a result of fugitive coal dust dispersal. Shipping of coal could also have devastating impacts on fishing and fishing rights along the Washington coast.” The Lummi do have a strong legal case based on treaty fishing rights, so much so that the US Army Corps of Engineers considered denying permits for the proposal based solely on their opposition.

Getting Out of the Fossil Fuel Economy

The highlight of the Sacred Summit for me was a very inspiring talk by Winona LaDuke, an internationally renowned Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) activist. People from all over Whatcom County, Bellingham and Seattle joined us for her talk. Environmental work can sometimes feel like a game of whac-a-mole, with a new pipeline or coal mine or refinery being proposed every few months. We live in the fossil fuel age, from the car-friendly infrastructure of our cities to the policies and subsidies our governments use to promote an oil-based economy. Ms. LaDuke reminded us of the bigger picture, of the dangers posed by climate change, of the inevitable end to big oil. We should be aiming for a graceful transition instead of a catastrophic crash, and we should do it as soon as possible. Every pipeline that we stop should give our governments pause about their energy policies. Every renewable energy project and conservation measure will decrease our own dependence on fossil fuels.

The WCEL delegation at the end of a long day, left to right: Ana Chamgoulova, Elizabeth Zarpa and Eugene Kung

The evening wrapped up by calling forward the witnesses, who gave their reflections on the evening. Their job throughout the day was to make sure everything was done properly, and their reflections legitimized the event according to traditional Lummi law. I could feel the significance of following protocol and doing things property in this great longhouse, and how the Lummi drew strength from the thousands of years of history so they can continue to fulfill their sacred obligations.

West Coast Environmental Law has long been working within the Canadian legal system to advance and uphold indigenous laws to protect the environment. This trip gave me a more international perspective on our work and reminded me that there are a lot of people – Aboriginal and not – fighting for a better world. This Earth is of all of our home.

By Ana Chamgoulova, Summer Law Student Volunteer at West Coast Environmental Law

Capitalizing on Fear

by Jay Taber on June 30, 2014, Intercontinental Cry


Tea Party Terrorists, published 29 April 2013 at IC Magazine, notes that in Whatcom County, Washington, “Wise Use ideology and anti-Indian rhetoric today — as the Tea Party and Wise Use hate entrepreneurs try to capitalize on fear over water rights and anxiety over economic salvation by the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal — again threaten to throw the region into turmoil.” Written shortly after the Anti-Indian Conference, promoted on KGMI radio by Tea Party leader Kris Halterman, and organized by anti-Indian activist Skip Richards, the concern about organized racism entering the electoral arena was a valid one.

Hate For Hire, published 27 April 2013 at IC Magazine, notes a special report by Charles Tanner that includes revelation of a scheme by anti-Indian organizers at the conference to finance a hate campaign against the Lummi Nation, using funding by the consortium behind Gateway Pacific Terminal. While the Anti-Indian Strategy by KGMI to drum up resentment against Lummi Nation was a vital vehicle for promoting the hate campaign, it was the insertion of monies from the Gateway Pacific Terminal consortium that would provide the fuel.

Anti-Indian Power, published 18 April 2013 at IC Magazine, notes that the Anti-Indian Movement infrastructure of national umbrella organizations like Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA) — the conference sponsor — is effective when paired with local anti-Indian groups. In Whatcom County, those groups include Citizens Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR) and the Tea Party.

Coalgate: The Gateway Pacific Terminal Scandal, published 23 February 2014 at IC Magazine, notes that CERA celebrity Philip Brendale — speaking at the April 2013 conference — offered his non-profit to serve as a conduit for coal company monies, which in turn could be used for an attack on Lummi Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians that are opposing Gateway Pacific Terminal. As Brendale put it, this would enable them to, “take these tribes down.”

In August and September 2013, Tea Party leader and KGMI radio host Kris Halterman established the Save Whatcom and Whatcom First PACs with $149,000 from the Gateway Pacific Terminal consortium. Further funds from the consortium for the Tea Party slate followed in November, after being laundered through the Washington Republican Party. In October and November 2013, Craig Cole was appointed by Gateway Pacific Terminal developer SSA Marine to lead Team Whatcom in supporting the Tea Party slate.

As noted in Hubris Syndrome, published 26 February 2014 at Public Good Project, Cole may actually believe there is a media conspiracy out to get him. If that is so, it is hard to say how reckless he might become.

The Politics of Land and Bigotry, published 14 February 2014 at IC Magazine, notes that “the Wall Street/Tea Party convergence is counting on intimidation and thuggery to maintain power and privileges based on wealth and race.” Unless moral authorities once again step forward to protect activists and journalists who support Coast Salish nations in their quest to save the Salish Sea, threats like Craig Cole’s will be emulated by the Tea Party and Christian Right.

Lummi Nation challenges Bellingham plans for work related to new Costco


Shoppers enter the Bellingham Costco store Jan. 8, 2013. City officials are continuing to work on projects designed to clear the way for development of a West Bakerview Road site that could accommodate a new Costco store. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD |Buy Photo

Shoppers enter the Bellingham Costco store Jan. 8, 2013. City officials are continuing to work on projects designed to clear the way for development of a West Bakerview Road site that could accommodate a new Costco store. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD |Buy Photo



BELLINGHAM – Lummi Nation and Fred Meyer Stores have appealed the city’s preliminary approval of wetlands, stormwater and street modifications along West Bakerview Road to accommodate a new Costco store.

The appeals will trigger a city hearing examiner review of the development proposal. In technical terms, the review will determine whether City Planning Director Jeff Thomas was justified in issuing a “mitigated determination of non-significance” for the work in and around the proposed Costco store. Thomas’ finding meant that the project could move ahead without a more extensive review of environmental issues, as long as steps were taken to deal with traffic and other impacts.

Brian Heinrich, Mayor Kelli Linville’s executive coordinator, said there was no way to know how long that process might delay final approval of the project. The hearing examiner will set a hearing date after checking with attorneys representing the tribe and Fred Meyer.

“Any delay can have an impact, but we trust the process and are confident that city staff have acted appropriately in application of our land use and environmental regulations,” Heinrich said in an email.

In a press release, Lummi Nation Chairman Tim Ballew said the appeal was based on concern about the project’s potential impact on salmon and the Nooksack River.

“Filling wetlands that nourish salmon-spawning streams is significant,” Ballew said. “It is significant to the health of the river, the Lummi people, and everyone who calls the Nooksack River watershed home. As the steward of the environment, it is the Lummi Nation’s responsibility to protect these waters and the fish that live in them.”

In an email, Heinrich said the city shares the Lummi concern with the environment and salmon. Because of those concerns, the city is following the law in requiring the project to add wetlands to make up for those that will be filled, while restoring a salmon-bearing stream.

Heinrich noted that Lummi Nation also has offered developers the opportunity to compensate for wetland-filling projects by buying shares in the tribe’s wetlands bank to help cover the cost of creating new wetlands to make up for those lost to development.

Lummi Nation has its own long-term plans for major retail development on tribally owned real estate farther north. In the past, tribal leaders have negotiated with the city of Ferndale on division of tax revenues from major retail development of tribally owned property inside that’s city’s boundaries. So far that issue has not been settled, and no specific development plans for the tribal real estate have emerged.

Fred Meyer’s objections to the West Bakerview project are based on traffic impacts on its existing store on the other side of West Bakerview.

“The proposed development will significantly and adversely affect (Fred Meyer’s) interests by, among other things, substantially interfering with access to the Fred Meyer store by unreasonably increasing traffic on West Bakerview Road.”

Seattle attorney Glenn Amster, representing Fred Meyer, asks the hearing examiner to order preparation of an environmental impact statement, or the imposition of other measures to reduce the traffic impacts.

The city already has decided to impose the cost of some traffic improvements on Costco as a condition of city approval, including the construction of added turning lanes for cars entering the site. The city will require Costco to provide a right-turn lane into the store parking lot for westbound traffic, plus an additional left-turn lane for eastbound traffic.

Costco has agreed to pay for those improvements, Heinrich said, but as yet there is no cost estimate.

The 20-acre Costco site is on the north side of West Bakerview Road near Pacific Highway.

Reach John Stark at 360-715-2274 or john.stark@bellinghamherald.com . Read the Politics Blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhampolitics.