Coastal First Nations Support NDP Bill to Protect Pacific Northwest

 

By: Derrick, West Coast Native News

(Vancouver, Sept. 23, 2014) – The Coastal First Nations supports a federal NDP [New Democratic Party] bill aimed at putting in place a law that would prohibit supertankers from on the North Coast.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen introduced a private members bill, An Act to Defend the Pacific Northwest, that would also give communities a stronger voice in pipeline reviews and consider impacts of projects on jobs.

Executive Director Art Sterritt said for too long the concerns of our people and the majority of British Columbians have been ignored. “The bill addresses some of our major concerns with Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline.”

The pipeline review process with First Nations has been lacking. “This bill will ensure that our voices and concerns are heard.”

Sterritt said the bill will allow for more sustainable and long-term jobs. “We have spent more than a decade developing a sustainable economy.”

The Coastal First Nations are an alliance of First Nations that includes the Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Haisla, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation working together to create a sustainable economy on British Columbia’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii.

A New PNW Alliance Aims to Shield the Salish From Destruction

Native Americans, environmentalists, and fed-up citizens unite to keep corporations from turning the region into a fossil fuel corridor

 

The Nawt-sa-maat is fighting to save the Salish Sea from destruction. Photo by Kelton Sears

The Nawt-sa-maat is fighting to save the Salish Sea from destruction. Photo by Kelton Sears

 

By Kelton Sears, Wed., Sep 10 2014, Seattle Weekly

 

On August 4, a dam holding back mining wastewater burst open in Likely, B.C., gushing roughly 6,604,301,309 gallons of toxic waste into the nearby lakes—a spill 78 percent larger than initial estimates. Only a month after the incident, Imperial Metals, the corporation responsible, declared the water safe to drink again.

“One of my friends caught a salmon alive and kicking there last week,” Sundance Chief Rueben George from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation said to a packed Seattle crowd at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center on Sunday. “But when my friend picked it up, the fish’s skin slid off in his hands.”

Salmon have long been spiritual symbols of the Pacific Northwest—aquatic residents of the Salish Sea that have given life to Coast Salish people for 14,000 years and white settlers for 150. That the skin of the Northwest’s spirit animal is melting off is just one of many reasons organizers say they are forming the brand-new Nawt-sa-maat Alliance, a group that has vowed to defeat oil and coal corporations bent on turning the Pacific Northwest into a fossil-fuel corridor.

 

Photo by Kelton Sears

Photo by Kelton Sears

 

Nawt-sa-maat, a Coast Salish word that means “One house, one heart, one prayer,” is an unprecedented trans-border coalition of Coast Salish indigenous nations, environmentalists, interfaith groups, and youth activists that met for the first time this past weekend in Discovery Park. The Alliance’s goal? “To protect the sacredness of the Salish Sea.”

“The tribes are the original environmentalists,” Annette Klapstein, a member of the Seattle Raging Grannies and a new member of the Nawt-sa-maat Alliance, said at the initial meeting on Sunday. Klapstein was one of three protesters who sat on train tracks in Anacortes to block the controversial “exploding” oil trains in July. It was her first direct action after years of fruitless writings to the Seattle City Council and visits to Olympia to persuade politicians to do something about the influx of dangerous rail cars.

“It was always very iffy for tribes to work with environmental organizations because these organizations were arrogant,” Klapstein said. “They would tell tribes what to do, which didn’t go over very well. This new alliance, based on respect and understanding, is so important because these different groups’ goals are much the same, and we are so much more powerful together.”

 


Chief George (right) with civic leader and alliance co-founder Jon Ramer (left). Photo by Kelton Sears

 

Chief George, one of the three main founders of the Nawt-sa-maat, presided over the initial meeting and made it clear that one of its biggest enemies was the massive energy company Kinder Morgan. “We stand as one, and together we will protect and restore the sacredness of the Salish Sea,” he said. “Together, we are stronger than those who wish to use our home and waters as a mere highway for dirty oil and coal. Together, we will stop them. Kinder Morgan will not win this battle.”

Formed by Richard Kinder, an ex-Enron employee, the oil mega-corporation is proposing a massive $5.4 billion oil pipeline connecting the Alberta tar sands to the Pacific through Burnaby, B.C., tripling current capacity and creating the potential for enormous spills in the North Salish that would directly affect us in Washington. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been pushing the project despite massive backlash from British Columbian activists and the indigenous Tsleil-Waututh, who are now taking the project to court for failing to consult with the First Nations tribe on the federal review.

“You know, I’d like to thank Stephen Harper,” said Nawt-sa-maat co-founder Chief Phil Lane Jr. of the Yankton Dakota and Chickasaw First Nations, “because in his complete unawareness, he’s awakened a sleeping spiritual giant.”

The mood at the meeting was intensely spiritual at times. Four local religious leaders, a United Methodist, a Buddhist, a Sufi, and an Interspirit, came together to bless the gathering in their respective traditions, ending with an indigenous cedar-bough blessing that the crowd happily lined up to receive. Many of the religious groups present vowed to convert their houses of worship to solar energy in an act of good faith.

Being a member of the Nawt-sa-maat effectively means a couple of things. Members are expected to join in a “4 Days of Action” campaign, starting on Sept. 19, that ranges from a salmon homecoming celebration to a climate-change rally at the Canadian border and ends with an international treaty signing that will effectively ratify the new trans-border Nawt-sa-maat Alliance. Members are then expected to join in future actions and work to build the nascent network, which will soon expand its scope to tackle the proposed coal-extraction sites at Cherry Point, sacred land to the people of the Lummi Nation near Bellingham.

“I just want to make this very clear,” Chief George said as he doled out salmon to the Nawt-sa-maat near the meeting’s end, “this Alliance isn’t just for one group. It’s for everyone. The Salish Sea is for everyone, not just corporations. We will win this fight.”

Conservation Groups Concerned Oil Spill Would Harm Wildlife

An oil train moves through Skagit County in Western Washington, headed to refineries in the Northwestern part of the state. | credit: Katie Campbell

An oil train moves through Skagit County in Western Washington, headed to refineries in the Northwestern part of the state. | credit: Katie Campbell

 

Courtney Flatt, Northwest Public Radio

 

As more oil trains travel along the Columbia River and Puget Sound, conservation groups worry that cleanup plans could harm sensitive wildlife, like endangered salmon and shorebirds.

That concern is prompting legal action. The Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Columbia Gorge Thursday filed a 60-day notice to sue the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency. The conservation groups say the oil spill response plan needs to be updated to account for endangered species.

Jared Margolis, an attorney for the center, said the response plan hasn’t been updated in 10 years. That means the plan doesn’t include new wildlife habitat and new species on the Endangered Species List, like smelt, also known as eulachon.

“If those spill response plans aren’t up-to-date, they could boom the oil right into critical habitat for endangered species, which can really impact the salmon and sturgeon.” Margolis said.

Margolis said the Gulf Coast’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill taught conservation groups that cleanup efforts, like burning oil and mixing oil with the dispersants, could harm endangered species.

An EPA spokeswoman said she could not comment on pending litigation. She said cleanup plans in the Northwest include monitoring for endangered species.

Pacific Northwest Social Forum Comes to Portland in September

pnwsf-group-shot

 

Source: Pacific Northwest Social Forum

 

Portland, Oregon: Dozens of social, economic and climate justice organizers from across the Pacific Northwest have been meeting for the past 16 months to bring the Pacific Northwest Social Forum to Portland, Oregon, September, 26th-28th, 2014. The three-day event will feature music; a fundraiser/solidarity action for a computer center in Burundi, Africa; and assemblies and panels on topics including Indigenous Treaty Rights, Climate Justice, Housing and Homelessness and Democracy. The overall goal of the event is to create a Pacific Northwest People’s Plan for Social, Economic and Climate Justice with strategy and actions for the next two years. The event will conclude with a direct action on Sunday that is also the kick-off to the implementation of the Pacific Northwest People’s Plan for Justice.

The Pacific Northwest Social Forum is one of many events taking place across the country in 2014 that are connected to and building toward larger gatherings in 2015 for the US Social Forum. The US Social Forum (USSF) is a national and international movement building process that is connected and accountable to the World Social Forum. After gathering 100,000 people in Porto Alegre, Brazil in
 2005, the International Council of the World Social Forum decided the following year there would be
 regional social forums. The USSF is one of these regional forums, stating that it was strategic to hold a gathering of peoples and movements within the “belly of the beast” that were against the ravages of
 globalization and neoliberal policies in the US and worldwide. The USSF is not a
 conference rather it is a space to come up with the peoples’ solutions to the economic and ecological crisis. The USSF is a next most important step in the struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and
 changes history.

“We hope to gather as many folks from the Pacific Northwest as we can from all walks of life,” reported Shamako Noble, National Coordinator with the USSF and organizer for the event. “We have buses coming from the North, South and East to the Forum, with reps from Hip Hop Congress, Move to Amend, Montana based Indian Peoples Action, and (folks from North), and groups from Seattle like the Multi-Media Center. This is shaping up to be a historic event, a game changer in working together to reclaim our region in a way that makes sense for the people and the planet. We’re excited to come together for this motion forward.”

Alyssa Macy, an organizer with the International Indian Treaty Council has been mobilizing Indigenous Peoples to participate in the forum. She stated, “This is an excellent opportunity to educate those individuals and organizations working for a most just society on Treaty Rights here in the Northwest and our shared responsibility in ensuring that the US honors them. Our struggles are related and it is only together that we can realize the society we envision.”

Registration is now open for this historic event at www.pnwsf.org and offers a sliding scale of $10-$100 with the opportunity to do 2-hours of barter work in exchange for registration.

Lummi Totem Pole Journey Rallies Voices Against Environmental Destruction

Courtesy of 'Kwel Hoy: A Totem Pole Journey'A 19-foot pole carved by Lummi master carver Jewell James and the House of Tears Carvers is being taken on a journey to 21 Native and non-Native communities in four Northwest states and British Columbia. James carved the pole to compel people to speak out against coal and oil transport projects that could have a devastating impact on the environment. The pole will be raised at Beaver Lake Cree First Nation on September 6.

Courtesy of ‘Kwel Hoy: A Totem Pole Journey’
A 19-foot pole carved by Lummi master carver Jewell James and the House of Tears Carvers is being taken on a journey to 21 Native and non-Native communities in four Northwest states and British Columbia. James carved the pole to compel people to speak out against coal and oil transport projects that could have a devastating impact on the environment. The pole will be raised at Beaver Lake Cree First Nation on September 6.

 

Richard Walker, 9/2/14, Indian Country Today

 

LUMMI NATION, Washington—At each stop on the totem pole’s journey, people have gathered to pray, sing and take a stand.

They took a stand in Couer d’Alene, Bozeman, Spearfish, Wagner and Lower Brule. They took a stand in Billings, Spokane, Yakama Nation, Olympia and Seattle. They took a stand in Anacortes, on San Juan Island, and in Victoria, Vancouver and Tsleil Waututh.

They’ll take a stand in Kamloops, Calgary and Edmonton. And they’ll take a stand at Beaver Lake Cree First Nation, where the pole will be raised after its 5,100-mile journey to raise awareness of environmental threats posed by coal and oil extraction and rail transport.

“The coal trains, the tar sands, the destruction of Mother Earth—this totem [pole] is on a journey. It’s calling attention to these issues,” Linda Soriano, Lummi, told videographer Freddy Lane, Lummi, who is documenting the journey. “Generations yet unborn are being affected by the contaminants in our water.… We need people to take a stand. Warrior up—take a stand, speak up, get involved in these issues. We will not be silent.”

The 19-foot pole was crafted by Lummi master carver Jewell James and the House of Tears Carvers. The pole and entourage left the Lummi Nation on August 17 for 21 Native and non-Native communities in four Northwest states and British Columbia. The itinerary includes Olympia, the capital of Washington State, and Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. The pole is scheduled to arrive at Beaver Lake Cree on September 6.

The journey takes place as U.S. energy company Kinder Morgan plans to ship 400 tanker loads of heavy crude oil each year out of the Northwest; a refinery is proposed in Kitimat, British Columbia, where heavy crude oil from Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline would be loaded onto tankers bound for Asia; and as Gateway Pacific proposes a coal train terminal at Cherry Point in Lummi Nation territory. Cherry Point is a sacred and environmentally sensitive area; early site preparation for the terminal was done without permits, and ancestral burials were desecrated.

In a guest column published on August 11 in the Bellingham Herald, James wrote that Native peoples have long seen and experienced environmental degradation and destruction of healthy ecosystems, with the result being the loss of traditional foods and medicines, at the expense of people’s health.

And now, the coal terminal proposed at Cherry Point poses “a tremendous ecological, cultural and socio-economic threat” to Pacific Northwest indigenous peoples, James wrote.

“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,” he wrote. “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.”

James wrote that the totem pole “brings to mind our shared responsibility for the lands, the waters and the peoples who face environmental and cultural devastation from fossil fuel megaprojects.… 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.”

‘This Is the Risk That Is Being Taken’

Recent events contributed to the urgency of the totem pole journey’s message.

Two weeks before the journey got under way, a dike broke at a Quesnel, British Columbia, pond that held toxic byproducts left over from mining; an estimated 10 million cubic meters of wastewater and 4.5 million cubic meters of fine sand flowed into lakes and creeks upstream from the Fraser River, a total of four billion gallons of mining waste. A Sto:lo First Nation fisheries adviser told the Chilliwack Progress of reports of fish dying near the spill, either from toxins or asphyxiation from silt clogging their gills; and First Nation and non-Native fisheries are bracing for an impact on this year’s runs.

RELATED: Video: Watch 4 Billion Gallons of Mining Waste Pour Into Pristine B.C. Waterways

On July 24, a Burlington Northern train pulling 100 loads of Bakken crude oil derailed in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood. The railcars didn’t leak, but the derailment prompted a statement from Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and Area Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians.

“People need to know that every time an oil train travels by, this is the risk that is being taken,” she said. “These accidents have occurred before. They will occur again. … The rail and bridge infrastructure in this country is far too inadequate to service the vast expansion of oil traffic we are witnessing.”

RELATED: Seattle Oil-Train Derailment Hits Close to Home for Quinault

A year earlier, on July 6, 2013, an unmanned train with 72 tank cars full of Bakken crude oil derailed in a small Quebec village, killing 47 people. An estimated 1.5 million gallons of oil spilled from ruptured tank cars and burned; according to the Washington Post, it was one of 10 significant derailments since 2008 in the United States and Canada in which oil spilled from ruptured cars.

RELATED: Lac-Mégantic Rail Tragedy Resonates in Quinault Nation as Victims Are Memorialized

Feds Call Bakken Crude Volatile as Quinault Warn Against Oil Rail Transport

Some good news during the journey: As the totem pole and entourage arrived at the Yankton Sioux Reservation in Wagner, South Dakota, word was received that the Oregon Department of State Lands rejected Ambre Energy’s application to build a coal terminal on the Columbia River; the company wants to ship 8.8 million tons of coal annually to Asia through the terminal.

RELATED: Treaty Victory as Northwest Tribes Celebrate Oregon Coal Train Rejection

One of the concerns that communities have about coal transport is exposure to coal dust; those concerns are shared by residents of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, where proponents of a coal terminal on the Mississippi River forecast an increase in Gulf Coast coal exports from seven million tons in 2011 to 96 million by 2030.

Dr. Marianne Maumus of Ochsner Health Systems told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that coal dust contains heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium and mercury, and can cause cancer, neurological, renal and brain-development problems.

“I think the risk is real. I think there is a lot of potential harm from multiple sources,” Maumus told the Times-Picayune.

James said there are alternatives to coal and oil—among them energy generated by wind, sun and tides.

“But we’re not going to move toward those until we move away from fossil fuels,” he said.

In his Nation’s territory, Yakama Chairman JoDe L. Goudy told videographer Lane he hopes the pole’s journey will help the voice of Native people “and the voice of those people across the land that have a concern for the well-being of all” to be heard.

“May the journey, the blessing, the collective prayers that’s [being offered] and the awareness that’s being created lift us all up,” he said, “lift us all up to find a way to come against the powers that be … whether it be coal, whether it be oil or whatever it may be.”

Albert Redstar, Nez Perce, advised young people: “Remember the teachings of your people. Remember that there’s another way to look at the world rather than the corporate [way]. It’s time to say no to all that. It’s time to accept the old values and take them as your truths as well.… They’re ready for you to awaken into your own heart today.”

To Unite and Protect

The totem pole journey is being made in honor of the life of environmental leader and treaty rights activist Billy Frank Jr., Nisqually. Frank, chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, walked on in May.

RELATED: The Fire That Was Billy Frank Jr.; Indian Country’s Greatest Defender

James said the pole depicts a woman representing Mother Earth, lifting a child up; four warriors, representing protectors of the environment; and a snake, representing the power of the Earth. The pole journey has been undertaken in times of crisis several times this century.

In 2002, 2003 and 2004, to help promote healing after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, James and the House of Tears Carvers journeyed across the United States with healing poles for Arrow Park, New York, 52 miles north of Ground Zero; Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed; and Washington, D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery, seven miles from the Pentagon. And In 2011, James and a 20-foot healing pole for the National Library of Medicine visited nine Native American reservations en route to Bethesda, Maryland. At each stop on the three-week cross-country journey, people prayed, James said at the time, “for the protection of our children, our communities and our elders, and generally helping us move along with the idea that we all need to unite and protect the knowledge that we have, and respect each other.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/09/02/lummi-totem-pole-journey-rallies-voices-against-environmental-destruction-156696?page=0%2C2

 

Swinomish tribe worries rising sea levels threaten tradition, culture

Scott Terrell photoTribal fisherman Randy Fornsby hoists a chinook salmon on the bank of the Skagit River west of Mount Vernon, Wash., Sept. 2, 1987. The Swinomish and Upper Skagit tribes shared a fishing area just upriver from where the Skagit breaks into its north and south forks.

Scott Terrell photo
Tribal fisherman Randy Fornsby hoists a chinook salmon on the bank of the Skagit River west of Mount Vernon, Wash., Sept. 2, 1987. The Swinomish and Upper Skagit tribes shared a fishing area just upriver from where the Skagit breaks into its north and south forks.

 

By: Kimberly Cauvel, Skagit Valley Herald, August 31, 2014

 

LA CONNER, Wash. – With 95 percent of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community’s reservation borders on the water, the tribe is concerned about the rise in sea level and storm surges expected as the planet warms.

As sea level rise pushes high tides and winter storm surges farther inland, coastal tribes in the Northwest worry that their archaeological sites will be wiped out, Swinomish Tribal historic preservation officer Larry Campbell said. They also worry that traditional food sources like salmon and oysters may be affected.

Campbell said food and medicine resources used by tribes around the country have moved or disappeared altogether in some places from where they were traditionally gathered, which is believed to be a result of the changing climate and shifting weather patterns. Those changes affect not only physical access to the natural resources, but the cultural well-being of the tribes.

“It’s important when you look at overall health to look at not just the foods and the resources, but the gathering,” Campbell said. “There’s a process of gathering these things that’s traditional in nature.”

Traditions are passed down through generations as elders share family gathering secrets with their next of kin, he said.

The Swinomish tribe has gained national recognition for its commitment to protecting the culture and natural resources of the Skagit Valley in the face of climate change and is gearing up to begin a new research project. Building off past studies, the tribe will evaluate both the physical and social impacts climate change may have on local near-shore environments.

Swinomish environmental health analyst Jamie Donatuto said the study will build upon earlier research by looking at indigenous health indicators, which take into account cultural, familial and emotional aspects of the impacts climate change may have on the natural resources the tribe values.

Over the course of the three-year study, Swinomish environmental specialist Sarah Grossman will lead efforts to monitor waves and winds on the shorelines during the winter, when storm surges roll in. She will also lead beach surveys to document characteristics like sediment, wood debris and eelgrass cover.

Donatuto will lead the social science side, organizing a series of spring workshops to invite the community to review and discuss the scientific data collected.

“You can’t assess health without actual conversations with community members,” she said.

A $756,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results program grant was awarded in June to support the multiyear project.

Swinomish intergovernmental affairs liaison Debra Lekanof said the Swinomish have invested $17 million in collaborative work on the nation’s natural resources over the past 10 years.

“We’re protecting the universal resource rather than the tribal resource. We’re doing a lot more for the state and the county, and then in the end the tribe benefits by taking care of the whole,” Campbell said. “We’re a very aggressive tribe when it comes to our environment.”

The tribe has also been chosen as a finalist for the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development’s Honoring Nations Program. The program, run by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, “identifies, celebrates and shares excellence in American Indian tribal governance.” This year, the tribe gained its place among 18 finalists in the running for the single “High Honor” because of its climate change initiative. The winner will be announced in October.

The Swinomish Indian Senate passed a proclamation on its climate change initiative Oct. 2, 2007, that marked the start of the tribe’s commitment to addressing the potential effects of climate change. The tribe developed an Impact Assessment Technical Report in 2009 and a Climate Adaptation Plan in 2010 that have provided a framework for other tribes to follow, and has continued to conduct related research, Donatuto said.

Associated Press photoA tribal canoe, in view of the Space Needle, arrives July 20, 2011, at Seattle’s Alki Beach. The landing of about a dozen canoes marked one leg of an annual journey of tribal canoes from the Salish Sea, heading to Swinomish, Wash.

Associated Press photo
A tribal canoe, in view of the Space Needle, arrives July 20, 2011, at Seattle’s Alki Beach. The landing of about a dozen canoes marked one leg of an annual journey of tribal canoes from the Salish Sea, heading to Swinomish, Wash.

 

How one Pacific Northwest tribe is carving out a resistance to coal — and winning

cover_coalprotest_post

Daniel Thornton

By Amber Cortes and Grist staff, Grist, 15 Aug 2014

The Lummi Nation, a Native American tribe in the Pacific Northwest, has taken an uncompromising stand against the largest proposed coal export terminal in the country: the Gateway Pacific Terminal. If completed, it would export 48 million tons of coal mined from Montana and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, and in the process threaten the Lummi’s ancestral fishing grounds and their economic survival. On Aug. 17 the Lummi people launch a totem pole journey — both a monument to protest and a traveling rally that will bring together imperiled locals, citizen groups, and other indigenous tribes for a unified front against Big Coal and Big Oil.

Grist fellow Amber Cortes visited the Lummis in the run-up to the pivotal protest to find out how they’ve been able to push back against the terminal. The result is a rich story about activism, alliances, and small victories that add up to a big resistance.

For the full story experience, click here.

Traveling Grocery: On the Road Again

Intertribal Agriculture CouncilThe Mobile Farmers Market on the 101 Pacific Coast Highway

Intertribal Agriculture Council
The Mobile Farmers Market on the 101 Pacific Coast Highway

 

 

If you listen closely, you can hear Dan Cornelius singing his favorite Willie Nelson theme song—“I’m on the road again…”—as his Mobile Farmers Market vehicle heads down the highway.

Cornelius, of Wisconsin’s Oneida Nation, is general manager of a three-month-long, 10,000-mile foodie road show designed to showcase Native American foods in conjunction with a reconnection of tribal trade routes. “A lot of native communities are remote, literally food deserts, and don’t have good access to healthy traditional fresh foods.  Part of our mission is to access food resources, take those great products and distribute them as part of a tribal trade reintroduction,” he says.

“There’s a lot of product that is traditionally grown, harvested and processed—lots of time and labor that goes into that—but the traditional foods aren’t made available to the general public as a sustainable economic resource.”

The interest is there, but the connection still needs to be made. “It’s about health issues, maintaining our traditions, and turning the effort into a form of economic development by selling excess product for profit.”

 

The “Reconnecting the Tribal Trade Routes Roadtrip” is an effort to bring attention to the unique Native food products and artwork from across the country. The Mobile Farmers Market van started the roadtrip in mid-December when it picked up wild rice, maple syrup, and other products in northern Minnesota. The roadtrip officially kicked off in early January, making the drive from Wisconsin to Louisiana before heading to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and the West Coast. The trip then visited Montana and the Dakotas en route to concluding during March back in Minnesota. (Intertribal Agriculture Council)
The “Reconnecting the Tribal Trade Routes Roadtrip” is an effort to bring attention to the unique Native food products and artwork from across the country. The Mobile Farmers Market van started the roadtrip in mid-December when it picked up wild rice, maple syrup, and other products in northern Minnesota. The roadtrip officially kicked off in early January, making the drive from Wisconsin to Louisiana before heading to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and the West Coast. The trip then visited Montana and the Dakotas en route to concluding during March back in Minnesota. (Intertribal Agriculture Council)

 

The Mobile Farmers Market traveled across the country earlier this year as part of the Intertribal Agriculture Council‘s efforts to improve Indian agriculture by promoting Indian use of Indian resources. “Prior to our founding in 1987, American Indian agriculture was basically unheard of outside reservation boundaries,” notes the group’s web page.

”The Mobile Farmers Market utilized a large capacity fuel-efficient cargo van to transport a number of products across a region, all the while providing support to start farmers markets in interested tribal communities,” says Market Manager Bruce Savage. The vans’ insulated interior lining ensured correct temperature control, and a chest freezer allowed for transport of frozen goods.

“For a variety of reasons, traditional native products are frequently difficult to obtain, and the Mobile Farmers Market hoped to change that by making things more accessible to tribal communities,” says Cornelius. In the Pacific Northwest, canned and smoked salmon were frequently obtainable items while the Southwest offered up cactus buds and syrup. The Great Plains provided a prairie-grown protein-packed wild turnip.  In the Great Lakes region it was sumac berries. “Soak them in water, add honey or syrup, and you get a tea-like lemonade that you won’t find commercially,” Cornelius says.

 

Coyote Valley Tribe's community and Head Start garden and greenhouse (Intertribal Agriculture Council)
Coyote Valley Tribe’s community and Head Start garden and greenhouse (Intertribal Agriculture Council)

 

Success of the project was contingent on cultivating supportive relationships with local partners and that part of the plan came together nicely, very reminiscent of the early trade and barter days.

“Trade routes once connected regional tribes across the continent where different local areas produced unique resources,” says Cornelius. “As an example, the Objiwe exchanged meat and fish for corn from the Huadenosaunee in the Northeast. And, of course, the Three Sisters combination of corn/beans/squash gradually moved from South and Central America throughout all of the North American Continent. “

The Reconnecting the Tribal Trade Routes Roadtrip got underway in December 2013 by first picking up wild rice, maple syrup, and other products in Minnesota before heading off to Wisconsin, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and the West Coast and finally heading home to Minnesota earlier this year via Montana and the Dakotas.

 

The Mobile Farmers Market’s main focus is food, but it also supports Native artisan by carrying a small selection of jewelry, crafts, and artwork. Pictured here: inlaid earrings from Santa Domingo Pueblo. (nativefoodnetwork.com)
The Mobile Farmers Market’s main focus is food, but it also supports Native artisan by carrying a small selection of jewelry, crafts, and artwork. Pictured here: inlaid earrings from Santa Domingo Pueblo. (nativefoodnetwork.com)

 

As Cornelius and crew bought and sold the wares of North America’s indigenous communities, the grocery list grew to include tepary beans from the Tohono O’odham people to chocolate produced by the Chickasaw Nation.

The mobile van discovered a gold mine at Ramona Farms in Sacaton, Arizona, on the Gila River Indian Reservation. Ramona and Terry Button have been growing crops for small ethnic grocers on the reservation for over 40 years and still have plenty to share with the outside world, everything from Southwestern staples like garbanzo and Anasazi beans to white Sonoran and Pima club wheat as well as alfalfa and cotton.

“Part of our mission was to build an awareness and an excitement of all the things available ‘out there’ and we succeeded,” Cornelius says. “One of the great things about our initial effort (discussions are currently underway to find funding for more vans and an increased regional visability) was the ground level opportunity to talk with community growers face-to-face discussing products, challenges, and opportunities to introduce traditional items to a larger world.”

 

The Mobile Farmers Market in Southern Oregon (Intertribal Agriculture Council)
The Mobile Farmers Market in Southern Oregon (Intertribal Agriculture Council)

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/08/11/traveling-grocery-road-again-156130

Ocean’s Rising Acidification Dissolves Shellfish That Coastal Tribes Depend On

ThinkstockThe ocean's acidity is rising and dissolving seashells, which could spell doom for Northwest tribes' way of life as well as their livelihood in the shellfish industry and sustenance harvesting.

Thinkstock
The ocean’s acidity is rising and dissolving seashells, which could spell doom for Northwest tribes’ way of life as well as their livelihood in the shellfish industry and sustenance harvesting.

 

Terri Hansen, Indian Country Today, 8/14/14

 

The ancestral connections of tribal coastal communities to the ocean’s natural resources stretch back thousands of years. But growing acidification is changing oceanic conditions, putting the cultural and economic reliance of coastal tribes—a critical definition of who they are—at risk.

It’s a big challenge to tribes in the Pacific Northwest, said Billy Frank Jr. (Suquamish) back in 2010, addressing the 20 tribes that make up the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

“It’s scary,” he said in a video posted at the fisheries commission website. “The State of Washington hasn’t been managing it. The federal government hasn’t been managing it. We’ve got to bring the science people in to tell them what we’re talking about.”

What they were talking about are the decreases in pH and lower calcium carbonate saturation in surface waters, which together is called ocean acidification, as defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Some 30 percent of the carbon, or CO2, released into the atmosphere by human activities has dissolved straight into the sea. There it forms the carbolic acid that depletes ocean waters of the calcium that shellfish, coral and small creatures need to make their calcium carbonate shells and skeletons.

Its impacts are felt by Native and non-Native communities in Washington State that rely on oysters and shellfish. Disastrous production failures in oyster beds caused by low pH-seawater blindsided the oyster industry in 2010, prompting a comprehensive 2012 investigation by Washington State. Earlier this month Governor Jay Inslee took the issue to the media in order to jump-start climate change action in his state, The New York Times reported on August 3.

The Quinault Indian Nation on Washington’s coast is part of one of the most productive natural areas in the world and is especially involved in the ocean acidification issue. The rivers in Quinault support runs of salmon that have in turn supported generations of Quinault people. The villages of Taholah and Queets are located at the mouth of two of those great rivers. The Pacific Ocean they flow into is the source of halibut, crab, razor clams and many other species that are part of the Quinault heritage.

“Since the summer of 2006, Quinault has documented thousands of dead fish and crab coming ashore in the late summer months, specifically onto the beaches near Taholah,” Quinault Marine Resources scientist Joe Schumacker told Indian Country Today Media Network. “Our science team has worked with NOAA scientists to confirm that these events are a result of critically low oxygen levels in this ocean area.“

The great productivity of this northwest coast is driven by natural upwelling, in which summer winds drive deep ocean waters, rich in nutrients, to the surface, Schumacker explained. This cycle has been happening forever on the Washington coast, and the ecosystem depends on it.

But now, “due to recent changes in summer wind and current patterns possibly due to climate change, these deep waters, devoid of oxygen, are sometimes not getting mixed with air at the surface,” Schumacker said. “The deep water now comes ashore, taking over the entire water column as it does, and we find beaches littered with dead fish—and some still living—in shallow pools on the beaches, literally gasping for oxygen. Normally reclusive fish such as lingcod and greenling will be trapped in inches of water trying to get what little oxygen they can to stay alive.”

The Quinault, working with University of Washington and NOAA scientists determined these hypoxia events were also related to ocean acidification.

“Now Quinault faces the potential for not just hypoxia impacts coming each summer, but also those same waters bring low-pH acidic waters to our coast,” Schumacker said. “Upwelling is the very foundation of our coastal ecosystem, and it now carries a legacy of pollution that may be causing profound changes unknown to us as of yet. The Quinault Department of Fisheries has been seeking funding to better study and monitor these potential ecosystem impacts to allow us to prepare for an unknown future.”

Schumacker noted that tribes are in a prime position to observe and react to these changes.

“The tribes of the west coast of the U.S. are literally on the front line of ocean acidification impacts,” he said. “Oyster growers from Washington and Oregon have documented year after year of lost crops as tiny oyster larvae die from low pH water. What is going on in the ecosystem adjacent to Quinault? What other small organisms are being impacted, and how is our ecosystem reacting? We have a responsibility to know so we can plan for an uncertain future.”

Scientists from NOAA and Oregon State University studied ocean waters off California, Oregon and Washington shorelines in August 2011, and found the first evidence that increasing acidity was dissolving the shells of a key species of minuscule floating snails called pterapods that lie at the base of the food chain.

Their study, published in the April 4, 2014, edition of the British scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that 53 percent of pterapods “are already dissolving,” said NOAA’s Feely.

“Pteropods are only a canary in this coal mine,” the Quinault’s Schumacker said. “They are a critical component of salmon diets, but what other creatures in the ecosystem are being affected?”

It’s a concern too, for the Yurok Tribe on the northern California coast. Micah Gibson, director of the Yurok Tribe Environmental Program, told ICTMN, “We’ve done some research, but no monitoring yet.”

The Passamaquoddy Tribal Environmental Department in Maine is monitoring ocean acidification, according to a letter the tribe sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They reported that the pH of Passamaquoddy, Cobscook Bays and the Bay of Fundy was around 8.03 during the 1990s and had dropped to 7.92.

The lower the pH value, the more acidic the environment. If, or when, the Passamaquoddy letter stated, the level in bays falls to 7.90, shellfish—including clams, scallops and lobster, all economic mainstays—will die.

In Alaska, coastal waters are particularly vulnerable because colder water absorbs more carbon dioxide, and the Arctic’s unique ocean circulation patterns bring naturally acidic deep ocean waters to the surface, according to recent research funded by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awaiting publication in the journal Progress in Oceanography.

Ocean acidification spells even more trouble for the Inuit subsistence way of life.

“New NOAA-led research shows that subsistence fisheries vital to Native Alaskans and America’s commercial fisheries are at-risk from ocean acidification,” NOAA said in the report. “Emerging because the sea is absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide, ocean acidification is driving fundamental chemical changes in the coastal waters of Alaska’s vulnerable southeast and southwest communities.”

The pH of the ocean’s surface waters had held stable at 8.2 for more than 600,000 years, but in the last two centuries the global average pH of the surface ocean has decreased by 0.11, dropping to 8.1. That may not sound like a lot, but as of now the oceans are 30 percent more acidic than they were at the start of the Industrial Revolution 250 years ago, according to NOAA.

If humans continue emitting CO2 at the level they are today, scientists predict that by the end of this century the ocean’s surface waters could be nearly 150 percent more acidic, resulting in a pH the oceans haven’t experienced for more than 20 million years.

The ocean acts as a carbon sink, greatly reducing the climate change impact of CO2 in the atmosphere. When scientists factor in our increasingly acidic oceans their studies show that global temperatures are set to rise rapidly, according to a study of ocean warming published last year in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

These frightening scenarios illustrate the point made by Frank in his talk on ocean acidification: Humanity must meet this challenge. So too must Inslee’s persistence in trying to place a high priority on climate change in Washington DC.

RELATED: Obama’s Climate Change Report Lays Out Dire Scenario, Highlights Effects on Natives

We are moving into the Anthropocene Age, a new geological epoch in which humanity is influencing every aspect of the Earth on a scale akin to the great forces of nature, according to the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The Anthropocene challenges American Indians, but if traditional knowledge could foresee the tremendous challenges posed by ocean acidification, Indigenous knowledge can surely find solutions to the impacts of climate change, starting with how we use energy, and how much carbon we emit.

“Have a little courage, and get out of some boxes,” the environmentalist and writer Winona LaDuke told ICTMN. “Put in renewable energy and re-localize our economies, from food to housing, health and energy.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/08/14/oceans-rising-acidification-dissolves-shellfish-coastal-tribes-depend-156395?page=0%2C1

 

BC Mine Dam Break Threatens Northwest Fisheries

Silty water from the breached Mount Polley Mine dam floods a downstream creek and road Monday. | credit: Photo courtesy Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre

Silty water from the breached Mount Polley Mine dam floods a downstream creek and road Monday. | credit: Photo courtesy Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre

 

By: Ed Schoenfeld, Alaska Public Radio; Source: OPB

 

A dam break at a central British Columbia mine could threaten salmon fisheries in the Pacific Northwest.

Mount Polley is an open-pit copper and gold mine roughly 400 miles north of Seattle. A dam holding back water and silt leftover from the mining process broke Monday. It released enough material to fill more than 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Government regulators have not yet determined its content. But documents show it could contain sulfur, arsenic and mercury.

Imperial Metals, the mine’s owner, issued a statement that only said the material was not acidic. Emergency officials told residents not to drink or bathe in water from affected rivers and lakes.

The spill area is in the watershed of the Fraser River, which empties into the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver, B.C. The river supports a large sport and commercial fishery in Washington state.

Brian Lynch of the Petersburg, Alaska, Vessel Owners Association says some of those fish also swim north.

“The United States has a harvest-sharing arrangement for Fraser sockeye and pink salmon through provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. So any problem associated with salmon production on the Fraser will affect U.S. fishermen,” he says.

Imperial Metals did not respond to requests for comment. Its website says the mine is closed and damage is being assessed.

Provincial officials have ordered the corporation to stop water from flowing through the dam break. Imperial could face up to $1 million in fines.

Environmental groups in Canada and Alaska say Mount Polley’s dam is similar to those planned for a half-dozen mines in northwest British Columbia.

They say a dam break there would pollute salmon-producing rivers that flow through Alaska.

That could also affect U.S.-Canada Salmon Treaty allocations, including for waters off Washington state.