Relocating Taholah

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

As a member of the Quinault Indian Nation (QIN), I spent the majority of my childhood summers in Taholah at my grandparent’s house while my parents worked throughout the summer. My grandparents lived right at the heart of the lower village. Many of my childhood memories occurred in Taholah. Playing backyard baseball with all of my cousins, daily trips to the mouth of the Quinault River with my auntie, bike rides with my sister throughout the reservation, lighting fireworks on the beach and enjoying good food and times served up at the many family functions at the community center. In my adolescent years, I worked for the Quinault newspaper, the Nugguam, where the offices had an amazing view of the river, located directly across the street. My mother, my grandparents and countless others created priceless memories in the lower village and have lived there for nearly their entire lives. It’s heart wrenching to learn that at any given moment the entire lower village could be washed away. 

“The last huge cataclysmic earthquake happened on January 24, 1700. The Quinault or Makah didn’t have records, but the Japanese kept good records,” states QIN Senior Planner, Kelsey Moldenke. “From that, they were able to extrapolate back to when it exactly happened. That’s three hundred and thirteen years ago, these quakes happen every three to five hundred years. We’ve already passed that three-hundred-year threshold, so the biggest threat to the village is a tsunami.” 

Kelsey Moldenke, Quinault Indian Nation Senior Planner

Schools along the coast, throughout Grays Harbor County, practice tsunami evacuation drills in case they ever need to transport students to higher ground. Tsunami evacuation routes are posted throughout the highways as coastal communities including Ocean Shores, Seabrook and Westport are all at high-risk. Many of the small towns have only one or two roads leading away from the ocean. Several of my classmates would often scoff at the idea of a tsunami ever occurring during our lifetime. One classmate even stayed home while his entire family evacuated during one of a few red tsunami alerts. Tsunamis, for some reason, always seemed somewhat farfetched. However, the Quinault Nation is currently in the planning process of creating an entire new village that is out of the tsunami danger zone, preparing for a tidal wave that may not be as far away as we once thought.  

 “We have the Cascadia subduction zone off of the coast, about fifty miles,” says Kelsey. “It’s geologically similar to the area off Indonesia, which back in 2005 had that big quake and tsunami that wiped out two hundred and fifty thousand people. There’s six hundred and fifty people and one hundred and seventy homes in the lower village, so we need to get people up the hill and out of danger in case of a disaster.” 

Relocating all of Taholah’s lower village community members and programs will be no easy feat. In fact, the planning department envisions completing the entire project within twenty to twenty-five years, depending on a number of variables such as funding and convincing the community to leave their current homes. When creating the plan for the new village, QIN also had to include the programs that are currently located in the lower village as well as the cultural museum, the Taholah Mercantile, post office, community center and the school. 

“We wanted to have a central road with the mercantile, the bank, the post office and other offices,” Kelsey said while describing the relocation plan.  “We have the museum at the heart of the community to keep the culture right there in the center. And also a new community center at the top of the hill where you would be able to have better space. The community center will probably be a little oversized, we’ll have extra showers and we added some storage for cots and tents, so that it could serve as the emergency evacuation area.

“The school’s plan was in place before I got here,” he continues. “The school is owned by the state, it’s not a BIA school, so it’s going to be harder to fund. I think the state will pay up to twenty percent of the new school, otherwise it’s up to local jurisdiction. Somehow we’d have to come with forty million dollars to pay for that school. Those funds could come through congressional appropriation or a big loan because that’s by far the most expensive building we’d be looking at and it’s not totally within the Nation’s control.” 

The new village will also include a central park, cottages for elders, apartments for college students and single adults, and tiny houses for the homeless population as well as people who are returning to the community from recovery. If a disaster were to take place, the QIN planning department took measures to ensure the sustainability of the community. 

“In the case of the quake and the tsunami, Taholah is by itself,” says Kelsey. “There’s one road in and there’s one powerline in and they both go through the tsunami zone on the beach. So having the best shelter in place was the goal of this project. We talked to Grays Harbor PUD and it would take six months to two years to get power restored in Taholah. Being at the end of the line, we’re the last ones to get served out here. How do we maintain at least some power was another goal of this plan. We placed an energy park in the village and a biomass facility. We worked with some federal agencies and with a non-profit group on incorporating solar into the neighborhoods. That may not take care of all the power needs for the village but it would keep the lights on for some of the day and the refrigeration going. And with the biomass, we’re looking at doing the district heating system where it would basically boil water and then you would take the heat from the boiled water and heat the clinic, the Admin Building and the Generations Building.”

The Generations Building is essentially the first step in implementing the relocation. The Generations Building will unite the elders and the babies of Taholah, combining the senior program and the Taholah Early Head Start, Head Start and day care programs into one building. Although the tribe hopes for much interaction between the generations, Kelsey explained that the idea behind the Generations Building is to protect the community’s most vulnerable populations. The new building will also serve as Taholah’s evacuation facility until the new community center is completed. 

The Generations Building is currently in the process of architectural development and if approved by the Nation, could begin construction as early as next year. After the Generations Building is complete, the next phase will be constructing the first neighborhood of the village, with spaces for both small and large families.

QIN will then focus their attention on relocating the Queets Village, located near Lake Quinault and home to a number of Quinault tribal members.

“We asked, how’s the tsunami going to affect Queets, and found that all of the lower village of Queets will also possibly be wiped out. We’re working on a plan for Queets, we’ll also be building a Generations Building for them, which could also serve as the evacuation center.”

 Kelsey believes the relocation of Taholah and Queets will happen over a number of years and in phases, alternating projects between the two new villages. In addition to the tsunami, QIN has to think about how climate change will continue to affect Taholah through sea level rise and beach erosion. 

Funding remains a concern for the project at the moment because many communities haven’t had to move an entire village to higher ground for the safety of their people during this modern age. In earlier years, Indigenous communities would be able to move about the land more freely, today the tribes face more challenges such as property ownership and the cost of construction. Since working on this project with QIN, Kelsey has come into contact with two tribes, one in Alaska and the other in Louisiana, who are currently experiencing similar situations and are having to relocate. By keeping in contact with those tribes, Kelsey has been able to learn of a couple new resources for funding as well as pick up a few pointers.

Saying good-bye to the entire Taholah village would be extremely hard because of the memories created and shared there. However, QIN is making efforts to protect the culture, the safety of its people and ensuring the future of the tribe by beginning to build a safe, new community away from the danger of a tsunami. 

Quinault Indian Nation hosts crude oil protest rally

When tribes stand together is when we are strongest

 

Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp, along with many tribal members and Grays Harbor community member rally in protest of crude oil in their county. Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

 

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Grays Harbor County is the vacation destination for Washingtonians who are looking for a relaxing affordable getaway. Grays Harbor is the home to popular beach towns like Ocean Shores, Seabrook, and Westport. Hikers and nature lovers who visit the Hoh Rainforest and Lake Quinault frequently admire the northern borders of the county because it shares the Olympic Peninsula with Jefferson and Clallam Counties. This county with breathtaking views almost everywhere you look is in danger of jeopardizing its greatest tourist attraction: it’s natural resources.

Westway Terminal is seeking to build and operate oil terminals in Grays Harbor. The company wants to bring in large amounts of oil via train, store it on the shoreline, and ship it out of the harbor in tanker vessels. Westway is the third company attempting to bring crude oil business into the Grays Harbor community in recent years. Imperium Terminal Services and Grays Harbor Rail Terminal have both attempted and failed largely due to the communities’ opposition. Westway argues that the company will create thousands of job opportunities in a community that is economically struggling, and that Washington State has one of the best oil spill prevention and response teams in the country, so if a spill were to ever occur, the damage would be significantly less than other states.

 

Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

 

Grays Harbor recognizes the point the company is trying to make and although some citizens find the possibility of an economic boost appealing, the majority of Grays Harbor feel the risk is greater than the reward. The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) is the most prominent among the many active voices in the community regarding this issue.

QIN hosted a march and rally in the city of Hoquiam on Friday July 8, protesting crude oil in Grays Harbor County. Hundreds of tribal and community members united in an effort to save the county from Westway’s purposed oil terminals. The rally began when traditional canoes docked at the Hoquiam River. Once everybody was ashore the protesters, with banners raised high, marched onto Hoquiam City Hall.

 

Quinautl_oil-1

Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

 

“Our ancestors gave up so much when signing the treaties. They worked to ensure that our generation, and we are the seventh generation since the Quinault Nation signed our treaty in the 1800’s, would be secured by treaty rights. This generation is standing up for our treaty rights to ensure that our natural resources are preserved for the next seven generations to come,” stated QIN President, Fawn Sharp, as the large crowd began to chant “No crude oil!”

 

Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

 

President Sharp commissioned an economic study in regards to what would happen to the community if the county approves the oil terminals. The study found that in the case of an oil spill, approximately 10,000 jobs would be threatened including 700 tribal fisherman, 400 non-tribal fisherman, and over 4,000 tourism based jobs. According to the study, more jobs would be lost in the community in the event of a spill than the jobs that would be created by approving Westway’s move to the harbor. Not to mention the damage a spill would cause the environment.

Sharp stated, “We are at a critical place in Grays Harbor. A decision is going to be made soon. The future of this harbor is going to go in one direction or the other. We need it to go in the direction of no crude oil forever!”

Several community leaders gave testimonies opposing Westway at Hoquiam City Hall that afternoon. Tribal leaders from Lummi, Neah Bay, and Quileute were in attendance to show support for Quinault. With the majority of the community on the same page, the purposed oil terminal seems to facing a losing battle. The QIN’s effort to preserve its natural resources for it’s future tribal members is a battle that the Nation is always prepared for. The protection of treaty rights is a fight that all tribes throughout Native America are familiar with, and when tribes stand together is when we are strongest. No crude oil!

 

Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

 

Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Photo/Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Quinault Indian Nation Lead Entity to Host Tour and Public Meeting on Salmon Habitat Restoration

Contact:   Steve Robinson

(360) 951-2494    

Water4fish@comcast.net

 
            QUINAULT, WA ( 6/10 /16) — Quinault Indian Nation, Lead Entity for Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 21, is inviting the public to participate in a public meeting regarding habitat restoration projects in Water Resource Inventory Area 21 on the evening of Thursday, June 23. The meeting will be held at the Lake Quinault Lodge from 7 pm to 9:30 pm. 
            “This will be the fourth annual public meeting, intended to provide information and answer questions about restoration and protection of our coastal rivers and streams that provide habitat for our naturally spawning salmon,” said QIN President Fawn Sharp. President Sharp will be on hand as a guest speaker.
            Members of the QIN Lead Entity Salmon Habitat Restoration Team will present updates about salmon habitat restoration efforts in the Quinault and Queets river systems. Featured projects include upper Quinault River Restoration and the Hurst Creek Rehabilitation Pilot Project.
            “This is an opportunity to learn about projects intended to restore physical and biological processes that improve salmon and steelhead habitat,” said Bill Armstrong, Habitat Management Scientist and Lead Entity Coordinator for the Quinault Indian Nation.
            “Salmon are an essential resource to our local communities and we are committed to restoring habitat they must have to return to our waters,” said President Sharp. “We are fully aware of the importance of developing and maintaining good, positive relations with our neighbors in the process of achieving this critically important objective. It is particularly important for us to be supportive of one another and work together,” she said.
            Speakers at the June 23 meeting include Bill Armstrong, Quinault Division of Natural Resources, Leif Embertson of Natural Systems Design, Dr. Kevin Fetherston of R2 Resource Consultants, Jill Silver of the 10,000 Year Institute, and Kyle Smith of The Nature Conservancy. Topics will include engineered log jams and salmon habitat responses, floodplain forest restoration, and non-native plant management. Steve Robinson of SR Productions and Public Relations Coordinator for Quinault Indian Nation will emcee the meeting.
            A tour of habitat restoration projects will precede the community meeting. The public is invited, but are asked to RSVP by June 20 by emailing Robinson at Water4fish@comcast.net.
 
            Lake Quinault Lodge is located at 345 South  Shore Rd., Quinault. Light refreshments and coffee will be served.
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Quinault Indian Nation Opens 2015-16 Crab Fishery

Quinault tribal crabbing boat, photo by Larry Workman, Quinault Tribe

Quinault tribal crabbing boat, photo by Larry Workman, Quinault Tribe

 

Source: Water4fish@comcast.net

 

TAHOLAH, WA (11/19/15)—“Count on it! Quinault crabs are safe to eat and they are delicious!” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation.

The Tribe opened its crab fishery today in Grays Harbor and the adjacent ocean area, one of the few areas spared by a giant toxic algal bloom which formed off the coast in May. It has been the largest such bloom in recorded history in both severity and magnitude.

“We have been very fortunate to be spared from the impacts of this bloom and the domoic-acid it produces,” said Sharp. “Many of our fishermen depend on crab as well as other fish for sustenance and income. But our priorities are to protect these resources, so our people are safe, others who consume our fish and shellfish are safe and we are doing everything possible to provide for the needs of future generations,” she said.

The Quinault crabs are being tested regularly to be certain they are safe for consumption by the Tribe and others. Samples are also being tested weekly by the State Department of Health, as requested by tribes and agreed to in a consent decree, part of the Rafeedie Decision of 1994, a U.S. v. Washington federal court decision.

Quinault Indian Nation Fisheries Policy Spokesperson Ed Johnstone said the Tribe’s decision to open the crab fishery was made after it reached agreement with its co-manager, the State Deparment of Fish and Wildlife that conservation thresholds could be met. “The Quinault Nation has always managed all of its natural resources based on conservation, on perpetuation of the resources and after considering all commitments to health and safety,” he said. “We always go the extra mile to assure that our fish are safe to eat. The QIN is a party to a fish health decree signed by the state and the Tribe and it commits us to sound and safe health controls associated with the consumption of our seafood, shellfish specifically. We test according to the protocols adopted as standard practice, but since there is a great public concern the seafood processing and sales corporate arm of the Quinault Indian Nation has committed to doing weekly tests of our shellfish to insure prompt and swift consideration any actions necessary.”

“This algal bloom is a very big deal and we are paying very close attention to it,” said Joe Schumacker, Quinault Marine Resource Scientist.

Scientists suspect that this year’s unseasonably high temperatures have played a major role in the outbreak of this bloom, along with something they call “the blob” — a vast pool of unusually warm water that blossomed in the northeastern Pacific late last year. The blob has morphed since then, but offshore waters are still about two degrees warmer than normal, said University of Washington climate scientist Nick Bond, who coined the blob nickname.

“But the inspection process being implemented with the Quinault crab fishery is very thorough, and because waters in the Quinault usual and accustomed fishing areas have been spared, people will have crab they can safely eat,” said Schumacker.

“That is our commitment,” said President Sharp. “If the product is from Quinault, you can count on it being safe to eat.”

Quinault Nation Wins Ocean Fishing Area Case

Source: water4fish

TAHOLAH, WA (7/9/15)—Federal District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez handed down a decision today favoring the Quinault Indian Nation, as well as the Quileute Tribe, confirming the tribes’ right to fish in the ocean. The case, which was first filed in 2009, pitted the two tribes against the Makah Tribe in a territorial battle for fishing rights.

 “We make every effort to avoid intertribal conflicts such as this, and that was certainly the case here, but the Makah Tribe, joined by the State of Washington, brought this lawsuit to limit the Quinault Nation’s treaty ocean fishing so Quinault was forced to defend its treaty rights. We are very fortunate to have federal court to resort to in those rare instances when we need it.”

Judge Martinez ruled that Quinault Nation’s Usual and Accustomed fishing area extends 30 miles out to sea from the Tribe’s reservation on the Olympic Peninsula. 

 “We are obviously very pleased with this decision,” said President Sharp. “We had no doubt whatsoever that our fishing heritage includes the ocean, and that was confirmed by the judge” she said.

The decision confirms that Quinault fishers will be able to continue fishing in the ocean for generations to come.

Judge Martinez accepted the Quinault Nation’s evidence regarding its heritage and reserved treaty rights.  This lawsuit was part of the 1974 U.S. v. Washington (Boldt) case which confirmed tribal treaty fishing rights. That case was supported by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1978.

 “Winning this case will not only help secure our long held ocean fishing heritage for our fishermen; it will also help us continue to manage ocean fish stocks properly. We will work with the Makah Nation, as well as other tribes and other governments to help assure that there are healthy stocks of salmon and other species in the ocean environment for many generations to come,” said President Sharp.

The Quinault Nation was represented in the trial by Eric Nielsen of Nielsen, Broman & Coch of Seattle. Quinault attorney Ray Dodge also contributed significantly to the case, which resulted in an 83 page decision by Judge Martinez, much of which documents the extensive long term relationship of the Quinault people with the ocean. 

North Dakota Today, Washington State Tomorrow?

 

 

By: Water4fish

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. District Court Dismisses Lake Quinault Case

Press Release, Water4fish

TACOMA, WA (5/4/15)—United States District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton dismissed a lawsuit this afternoon which had been filed in January against the Quinault Indian Nation and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources seeking to revoke ownership of Lake Quinault from the Tribe.

“This quick and explicit ruling was never in doubt,” said Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp. “As I said back in January, Lake Quinault is undisputedly within the Quinault Reservation. This was a meritless lawsuit. Lake Quinault is sacred to us. It is unquestionably within our Reservation and we take our responsibility to manage it properly very seriously.”

The suit, which was filed by North Quinault Properties LLC, questioned the Tribe’s ownership of the lake. The suit had included DNR for alleged failure to fulfill its management responsibilities. But the challenge actually stemmed from a few local landowners’ reactions to closure of the lake by the Quinault Nation last year, an action taken to protect the lake from pollution problems, invasive species and violation of tribally mandated regulations, said Sharp.

“Our objective is to protect the lake for future generations. We realize it is a popular recreation destination, and we are happy to accommodate those interests, but only as long as the lake is respected and protected at levels we accept,” she said.

“We want to acknowledge the fact that this frivolous lawsuit was brought by a single landowner and that a majority of landowners around the lake understand and support our objectives. They have shown respect for our efforts to reach out to work cooperatively while recognizing the exclusive governing authority of the Tribe. Good public policy among separate and distinct sovereigns requires cooperation, good faith, respect, and, when dealing with tribal nations, an understanding, in principle and practice, that our governing powers long pre-date the United States and its political subdivisions.  I want to publicly thank our neighbors and say that we look forward to strengthening our valuable relationship with them. Working together, as we have been able to do, is the best way we can all assure that Lake Quinault will remain clean, beautiful and available for all citizens for many years to come,” she said.

Judge Leighton issued separate dismissal rulings for the Tribe and the DNR. The Court granted the Tribe’s motion to dismiss based on sovereign immunity. The state dismissal was based on the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. DISTRICT COURT DISMISSES LAKE QUINAULT CASE

Source: Press Release Quinault Indian Nation,

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

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

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

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

 

Indian Country Today

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

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

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

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

RELATED: Climate Disruptions Hitting More and More Tribal Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Quinault Speak Out Against Oil Trains as Rail Cars Smolder in West Virginia

Chief Petty Officer Angie Vallier/U.S. Coast Guard photo via Popular ScienceThe derailed train cars in West Virginia, still smoldering a day later.

Chief Petty Officer Angie Vallier/U.S. Coast Guard photo via Popular Science
The derailed train cars in West Virginia, still smoldering a day later.

 

As two dozen charred freight-train tankers continued smoldering in West Virginia on Thursday, the Quinault Indian Nation grabbed the opportunity to once again deride the transport of crude oil by rail because of safety and environmental considerations.

RELATED: Video: Raw Footage of Exploding Oil Train in West Virginia Shows Dangers of Rail Transport

“Even as we face very severe, and growing, challenges from fossil fuel-induced climate change, oil production has doubled in this country over the past five years,” Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp said in a statement on February 17, a day after the 109-car train carrying three million gallons of extra-volatile Bakken crude derailed. “And it is getting spilled, in massive amounts, in many places. From 1975 to 2012, there was an average of 800,000 gallons of oil spilled from trains onto the lands and into the waters of this country each year. Last year alone that number skyrocketed to 1.15 million gallons.”

Indeed, at least one of the cars fell and discharged its contents into a tributary of the Kanawha River, and two towns had to be evacuated. Moreover, the train was on the same route that saw the derailment of three tanker cars into the James River in Lynchburg, Virginia, last year, the Associated Pressreported. Speed was not a factor, according to AP.

RELATED: Lynchburg Oil Train Explosion Refuels Rail-Terminal Opposition in Northwest

Oil terminals are proposed in Grays Harbor near Quinault territory, and Sharp has been outspoken against those projects. At least 130,000 barrels of crude oil would move through the Westway and Imperium oil terminals daily from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana, the Quinault statement said. Another 45,000 barrels would be accommodated at a terminal proposed in Hoquiam as well, the tribe said.

“People need to realize that these trains are unsafe, at any speed, regardless of the expertise of the crew and despite the efficiency of their communication with towns and cities through which they travel, the general provisions of related bills in the legislature and congress,” Sharp said. “The country’s infrastructure, such as its rails and bridges, are not strong enough or in good enough repair to handle the massive weight and pounding these trains deliver.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/02/20/quinault-speak-out-against-oil-trains-rail-cars-smolder-west-virginia-159305