Quinault Nation Applauds U.S. Court of Appeals Decision

Big Lagoon Rancheria v. State of California A significant victory for Indian Country

Source: Water4fish.net

TAHOLAH, WA (6/10/15) — A unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals issued Thursday, June 4, in favor of the Big Lagoon Rancheria in a dispute regarding the State of California’s failure to negotiate in good faith was a landmark case for tribes throughout the country, including the Quinault Nation, according to Quinault President Fawn Sharp.

The decision, made en banc by the Ninth Circuit Court ruling in Big Lagoon Rancheria v. State of California marks a significant victory for Indian Country and settles the uncertainty created by a now-vacated decision by the court in January 2014. Thursday’s decision holds that challenges to the trust status of lands and the federal recognition of an Indian tribe can only be brought pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA)*. 

In other words, a party cannot attack collaterally a BIA trust decision outside the framework of the APA. In this particular case, the State of California “failed to file the appropriate APA action and because such an APA challenge would be time-barred,” the Ninth Circuit held that the State could not prevail on its claims.   The decision is an affirmation of a U.S. District Court’s decision that the state had failed to negotiate in good faith and ruled that the tribe can conduct gaming under the Indian Gaming Resources Act (IGRA), subject only to the Secretary of the Interior’s approval of the tribe’s gaming compact.

 “This holding is a major victory for all of Indian Country and for American justice,” said President Sharp. “Among other things, it will protect the final decisions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from collateral attacks in litigation after the expiration of administrative and legal remedies.  It clarifies that the status of tribal trust property is an issue separate from the obligation of states to negotiate in good faith under IGRA.  The decision sets a positive precedent for other federal courts and will help protect and preserve the legal status of tribal trust lands throughout the country.

The case began as a bad-faith suit filed against the State of California.  Relying on Carcieri v. Salazar, the state argued that the BIA lacked the authority to take land into trust on behalf of the tribe because the tribe was not under federal jurisdiction in 1934.  In that case, the state claimed the tribe was not entitled to good faith negotiations under IGRA because the parcel in question was not properly taken into trust by the BIA. In January 2014, a divided three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit held that the tribe was not “under federal jurisdiction in 1934” and that its trust property was therefore not “Indian lands” for purposes of IGRA.  This ruling had been a serious blow to the tribe and to Indian Country because it opened the door to collateral Carcieri attacks on BIA fee-to-trust decisions years after the expiration of administrative and legal remedies. In June 2014, the Ninth Circuit granted a rehearing en banc (full court hearing).

That hearing’s decision, Thursday’s unanimous reversal holds that challenges to the trust status of lands and the federal recognition of an Indian tribe can only be brought pursuant to the APA. 

 “In other words, a BIA trust decision cannot be attacked collaterally outside the framework of the APA,” said President Sharp.

“This truly is a case in which justice prevails. The case ruled that the tribe can conduct gaming under IGRA, subject only to the Secretary of the Interior’s approval of tribal/state compacts and not a barrage of collateral actions,” she said.

 

*The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), Pub.L. 79–404, 60 Stat. 237, enacted June 11, 1946, is the United States federal statute that governs the way in which administrative agencies of the federal government of the United States may propose and establish regulations.

Fawn Sharp Discusses Steps to Stemming the Tide of Climate Change

Courtesy Larry Workman/Quinault Nation“Our Mount Anderson glacier is gone. It was there for thousands of years and over the past few years it simply melted. That is warming the water and making salmon restoration more challenging.”

Courtesy Larry Workman/Quinault Nation
“Our Mount Anderson glacier is gone. It was there for thousands of years and over the past few years it simply melted. That is warming the water and making salmon restoration more challenging.”

Richard Walker, Indian Country Today 

 

Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp appeared before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee in Washington, D.C. on March 24 to request federal funding to support the relocation of homes, public buildings and schools out of a tsunami zone in the coastal village of Taholah.

Sharp’s testimony came a week after the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, of which she is president, hosted a summit, “Asserting Native Resilience – Protecting and Enhancing Tribal Resources and Sovereignty in the face of Climate Change.”

After her House subcommittee testimony, Sharp – a University of Washington-educated lawyer and former state administrative law judge – talked with ICTMN about the summit and what she believes the next steps must be to stem the tide of climate change and the devastation that would follow.

RELATED: Climate Change: Mankind Must Stop Destroying ‘Our Own Mystical Place’

 

Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp, during the 2013 Canoe Journey/Paddle to Quinault: “Climate change is expected to significantly alter the ecology and economy of the Pacific Northwest, and Tribes and Native communities are among the most climate-sensitive groups within this geographic area.” (Richard Walker)
Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp, during the 2013 Canoe Journey/Paddle to Quinault: “Climate change is expected to significantly alter the ecology and economy of the Pacific Northwest, and Tribes and Native communities are among the most climate-sensitive groups within this geographic area.” (Richard Walker)

 

What are some of the extreme examples of climate change that were presented at the meeting?

As we have known for some time, our ocean waters are acidifying due to increased pH levels caused by carbonic acids that result from the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It’s estimated that up to 40 percent of the carbon released by humans enter the ocean, as well as rivers and lakes.

Generally speaking, there is nothing new about this. But the increased levels of carbon released by humans since the industrial age has had major impacts and, as population has expanded in the U.S. and elsewhere, the increased amount of automobile emissions as well as other fossil fuel emissions have led to ever-increasing change in the form of water temperature increases and acidification.

So should this concern us? It absolutely should, because it is impacting the ecosystem. People should never think they live in some form of protected bubble, or that they can ignore the environment and get along just fine.

People are just as dependent on a healthy ecosystem as every other living creature on Earth, and anytime any specie is in danger, we are affected. But, whether due to fear of losing their job or a feeling of helplessness or some inaccurate information they might have heard somewhere, far too many people do nothing about it. They ignore it or even deny it. That’s just not good enough.

Everyone who lives on our Mother Earth has a responsibility to protect her. Everyone who drinks water in one form or another has a duty to assure it is pure. And every person who breathes God’s air is responsible for its quality.

The ocean is warming. It has become acidified. The sea level is increasing, increasing the intensity of storm surges, as well as flooding, erosion, forest fires and habitat loss. Glaciers have melted or are melting, causing rivers and lakes to warm and making them uninhabitable for fish. We feel all of these impacts at Quinault Nation. Our Mount Anderson glacier is gone. It was there for thousands of years and over the past few years it simply melted. That is warming the water and making salmon restoration more challenging.

What are some innovative ways tribal nations are responding to the challenges presented by climate change?

There are innovative approaches being used or planned by some tribal nations but the bottom line is that Mother Nature’s ways are best. Fish and wildlife need a healthy environment, just as people do. Securing those resources and protecting them for future generations requires respect for the environment. It’s an old tribal value to take only what you need from Nature to survive, and use all that you take. It’s also an old value to base the decisions one makes today on the impacts they will have seven generations from now.

As my very good friend Billy Frank Jr. used to say, “You have got to see the big picture.” Those who rush to drill every drop of oil they can now so they can get as rich as they can, regardless of the impact on the environment, do not see the big picture. Those who neglect the environment when they use pesticides or buy high gas-consumption cars don’t see the big picture. Those who neglect instream flows in their quest for irrigation water or build dams on rivers simply do not see the big picture.

But to answer your question, there are many ways that tribes are being innovative in responding to the climate change problem. This is probably the biggest environmental problem that exists in the world today. So tribes have been gathering, as nations, on a national and international scale to share ideas, consolidate plans and garner strength in their efforts to have a strong voice in their call for the countries of the world to change their ways. We want them to stop poisoning the planet, stop killing all the animals and plants and stop destroying all the habitat. We have been working with the United Nations and other international organizations to achieve the level of recognition the Indigenous Peoples of the world deserve.

We have reached out and been a part of many efforts designed to see solutions to climate change. I served on the Governor’s Carbon Emissions Task Force all summer long as we developed a gas tax plan for the state, which is now being considered in the legislature.

Virtually every tribe in the state is involved at some level in protecting, enhancing or restoring habitat. Quinault has been for many years. Those efforts are constantly innovative in their approach – whether our scientists are developing new ways to place trees in the river to regain natural hydraulics in the system or devising new ways to place gravel for spawning habitat. We invest in our science and in our river, lake and marine restoration and protection programs because it supports our future, it is true to our heritage and because it’s the right thing to do.

(Sharp then shared information about the Swinomish Tribe’s Climate Change Initiative, which can be viewed at here.)

What will ATNI do with the information that was presented at the climate change summit?

ATNI will work with a group of tribal representatives from Pacific Northwest Tribes and Inter-Tribal organizations, in collaboration with federal, state and local governments, to prepare summary recommendations on the following by the next ATNI convention in Warm Springs, Oregon on May 18-21:

One, begin to identify Pacific Northwest Tribal needs for climate change and organize tribes regionally to support increased funding, technical support, and capacity to address those needs.

Two, identify strategies to promote and protect tribal sovereignty and tribal resources.

Three, prepare a strategy to engage Pacific Northwest Tribes on developing a policy framework for a “Pacific Northwest Tribal Action Plan on Climate Change, Energy, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” similar to California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia’s “Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate Change, Energy, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”

Four, coordinate Pacific Northwest Tribes’ actions on climate change into a cohesive and effective strategy in order to inform regional, national, and international policy.

Five, adopt a resolution at ATNI’s May 2015 convention to bring climate change issues, policies, and strategies to the National Congress of American Indians national convention.

In addition to the outcomes of this summit, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians support the findings of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience established by Executive Order 136531.

(Sharp then reviewed those recommendations, which can be read at here.)

How are tribal nations seeing the effects of climate change, perhaps in ways that people outside of Indian country are not seeing them?

Climate change is expected to significantly alter the ecology and economy of the Pacific Northwest, and tribes and Native communities are among the most climate-sensitive groups within this geographic area.

Models predict warmer temperatures, more precipitation as rainfall, and decreased snowfall over the next 50 years which will directly affect the abundance of culturally significant foods, such as salmon, deer, root plants, and berries. These foods are important for ceremonies and subsistence, and access to traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering sites is guaranteed by treaty, constitution, or other agreements with the federal government. Increasing the climate resilience of tribal governments and Native communities is critical to ensuring access to resources protected by right and vitally important to the cultural existence and economic vitality of these communities.

Tribes must proactively begin to address these impacts, assess their vulnerability, and develop adaptation strategies. A few Northwest tribes are developing their internal technical, legal, and policy capacity to comprehensively address climate change impacts – however, much more work is needed. Although many tribes have been involved [in] habitat and climate change-related efforts, less than 5 percent of tribal governments – 25 [federally recognized] tribes out of 566 – nationwide have developed climate change vulnerability assessments or adaptation plans.

What action does ATNI want to see taken in order to see some positive impacts immediately?

Funding of Northwest tribes is critical. The principal funding source for Tribal Climate Change is the Bureau of Indian AffairsIn fiscal year 2013, the BIA had only copy million allocated to tribal governments nationwide. In fiscal year 2014, there was to be copy0 million appropriated for Tribal Climate Change programs, however those funds have either been re-appropriated within the Department of the Interior or have not yet reached tribal governments. The ATNI-member tribes are seeking an increase of $50 million for the BIA Climate Change Program for fiscal year 2016 and beyond.

Support is needed for tribes to prepare for the unique impacts they face as a result of climate change. The federal government must fully incorporate its government-to-government relationship with tribes and Alaska Native communities into existing programs and activities that relate to climate change by enhancing self-governance capacity, promoting engagement of state and local governments with tribal communities, and recognizing the role of traditional ecological knowledge in understanding the changing climate.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/04/01/fawn-sharp-discusses-steps-stemming-tide-climate-change-159826

Quinault Flooding: Before Clear-Cutting, Watershed Prevented Overflow

Courtesy Quinault NationHighway 109 at Moclips on the Quinault Indian Nation, taken just before 10 a.m. on January 6.

Courtesy Quinault Nation
Highway 109 at Moclips on the Quinault Indian Nation, taken just before 10 a.m. on January 6.

 

Richard Walker, Indian Country Today, 1/12/15

 

In its natural state, before the logging and development and riprap, the Quinault River watershed worked like a finely tuned machine.

The north and east forks of the Quinault River flow from headwaters in the Olympic Mountains, meander through temperate rain forest and the Valley of a Thousand Waterfalls to Lake Quinault—where returning blueback salmon mature before they head upstream to spawn—and, finally, to the Pacific Ocean. The Quinault River and its tributaries nourish and drain a 188-square-mile watershed.

The river has changed since the time of the grandparents’ grandparents.

“Areas that were clear-cut changed river processes to a greater degree than did areas where only the largest trees were selectively cut,” the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reported in a 2002 study. “After vegetation was removed … the river was free to migrate across the floodplain at a faster rate.”

The more rapidly migrating river “liberated large amounts of sediment that had been stored in bars, vegetated islands, and the floodplain,” the Bureau of Reclamation added.

To protect their homes and property from the force of the rapidly migrating river, riverfront landowners responded “by re-arranging or removing large woody debris and log jams in the river and placing cabled logs and rock riprap along the river bank to prevent erosion,” the Bureau of Reclamation reported. While this worked in some places, it had unanticipated effects downstream.

“In some cases, this has limited [salmon] habitat availability because entrances to side channels become blocked with fill or levees,” the Bureau reported.

Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp, who lives at Lake Quinault, said a century of manmade changes on the Quinault River have altered natural river dynamics and ecological processes, diminishing “the popular desire for watersheds to flood within their natural floodplains, and many of the fixes and proposed fixes only make matters worse.”

Sharp believes those modifications are partly responsible for flooding, road washouts and culvert failures that occurred during a storm on January 4–5. Several residents were evacuated, one elder was rescued from a car that stalled on a flooded road, and a school in Taholah was temporarily closed because of flooding. The Quinault Nation issued a disaster-area declaration, spurring the involvement of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“FEMA quickly responded and are working with staff to assess damage,” Sharp reported on January 7. “We sustained damage to a number of interior bridges and logging roads. Our offices and schools reopened today.”

The Quinault will work with FEMA over the next 30 days “to assess damages and financial impacts,” Sharp said, adding that a meeting had been scheduled for January 14. “Our scientists and natural resource staff will be briefing us on environmental impacts. [We] will know more then.”

One thing Sharp knew as she issued the emergency declaration: Any response must address modifications that have made the river more hazardous during storms.

RELATED: Deluge Causes Flooding, Mudslides, State of Emergency on Quinault Reservation

A July 2011 environmental impact assessment, by the Quinault Nation and BIA, of Quinault’s restoration plans for the Upper Quinault River “preferred [the] alternative of installing engineered logjams and restorative planting of conifer and hardwood trees to meet the goals of improving river processes and salmon habitat.”

The Quinault Nation is installing engineered logjams, removing invasive species, and replanting native trees to aid forest regeneration. And between 2000 and 2013, the Quinault Nation spent more than $5 million on river and salmon habitat restoration.

In 2013, the Quinault asked Congress for an investment of $5.79 million over a period of five years for Upper Quinault River restoration; the tribe also asked Washington State—with the Quinault a co-manager of the state’s salmon populations—for an allocation of $2.8 million for continued restoration work on the Upper Quinault River watershed. Those requests were partially funded, according to Quinault Nation spokesman Steve Robinson.

As far as salmon habitat restoration goes, “We have had small local effects, particularly in those areas where we’ve put in structures, such as log jams,” Quinault Nation fisheries senior scientist Larry Gilbertson told Indian Country Today Media Network in 2013. “But in the overall watershed, we’ve only just begun.”

RELATED: Quinault Nation Pushes for Blueback Habitat Restoration Support

And now, the impacts to people and property of those earlier modifications that altered natural river dynamics are being felt.

‘The worst I’ve seen it’

Sharp is accustomed to storms. And she has studied photographs of floods that occurred in Quinault territory 100 years ago. But she had never seen anything like this.

There were reports of landslides and flooding in Quinault territory and in neighboring communities during the January 4–5 storm. Portions of two state routes and U.S. Highway 101 were closed, made treacherous by flooding, debris or washouts.

The Quinault Nation’s administrative offices and a school in Taholah were temporarily closed because of flooding. Quinault’s Property Management Division ordered an emergency inspection of all the Nation’s buildings and infrastructure. Major access roads into Quinault were closed or deemed extremely hazardous.

A portion of road reportedly washed out on the Upper Quinault River, sending debris into salmon spawning habitat. Two nearby rivers, the Moclips and the Queets, also overflowed.

“The Moclips River flooding is the worst I’ve seen it,” Sharp said on January 5. “The Moclips Highway 109 Bridge near Quinault Village, a main access road to and from the Nation, has been washed out and is closed. That is a major problem for [Quinault]. SR 109 could take days to repair. And if our own Moclips Highway needs major repairs, we will have significant commuter problems.”

Various Quinault agencies worked to clear storm drains, evaluate damage, and monitor the wastewater treatment plant in Queets, which was compromised by the overflowing Queets River.

Amid the rain and flooding and landslide and debris, Sharp found reason to be grateful. “We are very happy and relieved to report that, to our knowledge, there has been no loss of life or injury caused by this heavy rain and flooding,” she said at the time.

However, as rain was expected to return during the weekend, Sharp warned, “It is important for people to remain alert for potential slides, lingering flood dangers and infrastructure damage.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/01/12/quinault-flooding-clear-cutting-watershed-prevented-overflow-158657?page=0%2C1
 

Washington State Official Joins Northwest Tribes in Urging Oil Train Regulation

Associated PressThis derailment and explosion of a train carrying Bakken crude in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada in July 2013, killed 47 people. Northwest tribes and the State of Washington say, 'No thanks.'

Associated Press
This derailment and explosion of a train carrying Bakken crude in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada in July 2013, killed 47 people. Northwest tribes and the State of Washington say, ‘No thanks.’

 

 

Indian Country Today

 

Washington State’s rail system is aging, and that combined with the flammability of Bakken crude oil spell danger for ecosystems and people, a top official and 10 tribes said in a Seattle Time sop-ed on November 20.

The Quinault have spoken out numerous times against such rail transport, a practice with potentially tragic consequences as evidenced by the July 2013 explosion in Lac Megantic Quebec, that killed at least 47 people.

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

The Quinault as well as Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, issued a joint statement in conjunction with the op-ed piece. Tribes, Goldmark noted, are rightfully at the forefront of this debate.

“Tribal leaders bring unique perspective and concern about threats to our treasured landscapes,” Goldmark said in the statement issued jointly with the 10 tribes. “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.”

Swinomish Tribe Chairman Brian Cladoosby said it was time to move away from the Northwest’s “pollution-based economy” in general and oil trains in particular.

“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,” said Cladoosby, who is also president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), in the statement posted at the website of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. “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?”

Besides Cladoosby, Goldmark and Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp, the statement was signed by Lummi Nation Chairman Tim Ballew II; Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation Jim Boyd; Cowlitz Indian Tribe Chairman William B. Iyall; Hoh Indian Tribe Chairwoman Maria Lopez; Squaxin Island Tribe Chairman David Lopeman; Quileute Tribe Chairman Charles Woodruff; Tulalip Tribes Chairman Herman Williams Sr., and Gary Burke, chairman of the board of trustees of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

Together they urged policy makers to take up critical regulatory issues surrounding the increased traffic of oil trains throughout the state of Washington.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/11/20/washington-state-official-joins-northwest-tribes-urging-oil-train-regulation-157937

Quinault Nation president picked as leader of Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians

Source: Peninsula Daily News

Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Nation, has been re-elected president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.

Sharp was re-elected by acclamation Wednesday to a second term during the annual convention of the affiliated tribes, according to Steve Robinson, Quinault spokesman.

The convention is being hosted this week by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation near Pendleton, Ore.

“It is a great honor to have the opportunity to continue serving Northwest tribes in this capacity,” Sharp said.

“Our region carries a legacy of strong leadership and represents an amazing diversity of issues.”

Sharp said her top priority would be “to continue to unify, strengthen and amplify the Northwest voice” on issues involving the rights and resources of the tribes.

The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians is composed of 57 tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

Representatives determine regional policy priorities and direction during three yearly meetings.

The executive board serves as the board of directors for the organization, which was chartered as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization 61 years ago.

Its goals and objectives are to promote tribal sovereignty and serve the common interests of its member tribes in a wide variety of areas, ranging from health and education to natural resource management and sustainable economic development.

In her role with the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Sharp also serves as area vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, the largest intertribal organization in the country.

She is serving her third term as Quinault president.

Sharp received a Juris Doctor from the University of Washington school of law and holds an advanced certificate in international human rights law from Oxford University.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Gonzaga University in Spokane.

Grain Car Derailment Could Have Been Oil: Quinault Raise Alarm Again

KXRO: If this grain were oil…. The third train-car derailment in as many weeks has Pacific Northwest tribes that oppose oil-rail transport on edge.

KXRO
: If this grain were oil…. The third train-car derailment in as many weeks has Pacific Northwest tribes that oppose oil-rail transport on edge.

 

Indian Country Today

 

It has happened again, this time not with oil but with grain.

However, the Quinault Nation pointed out on May 16, the derailment of a grain train in Grays Harbor County is all the affirmation needed to show that transporting something more hazardous, namely oil, in this manner has too much chance of ending badly.

“Another train derailment in Grays Harbor County? Three in three weeks? Rails ripped up, Cars tipped over. Cargo spilled out,” said Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp in a statement. “That cargo may have been grain this morning, but it might just as well have been oil, and that would have been disastrous.”

Sharp was alluding to a May 15 incident in which seven cars carrying grain tipped over when 11 cars on the train they were part of derailed. It was the third such occurrence in as many weeks on the network of tracks operated by Puget Sound & Pacific Railway in the Grays Harbor area, the Quinault statement said. This came right on the heels of two earlier derailments—one on April 29, when a grain car tipped over in Aberdeen, and another on May 9 in east Aberdeen, when some cars came off their tracks, the Quinault said.

The cargo was different, but the propensity of train cars to derail no matter what they were carrying says that transporting oil via this method is not safe, the Quinault said. Around the country and in Canada, derailments of trains bearing crude oil, much of it from oil sands and deemed especially flammable, have resulted in destruction and even death.

RELATED: Exploded Quebec Oil Train Was Bringing Crude From North Dakota’s Bakken to New Brunswick Refineries

Lynchburg Oil Train Explosion Refuels Rail-Terminal Opposition in Northwest

However, Puget Sound & Pacific Railway, a division of Genessee & Wyoming, said it was investigating the cause of the derailment.

“This series of minor derailments is a highly unusual, unacceptable occurrence and subject to a rigorous investigation,” company spokesperson Michael Williams, Genesee & Wyoming, told radio station KXRO on May 16. “The first two derailments were caused by localized failure of railroad ties that were saturated with moisture from recent heavy rains. Other locations experiencing this issue have been identified and are being corrected prior to receiving another train. The cause of yesterday’s derailment is still being determined.”

Several tribes in the Northwest are opposing railroad terminals in or near their territory that would handle oil and coal. Oil traffic in particular has troubled the Quinault.

“Now, one-two-three, it’s as easy as that. Any argument in favor of bringing Big Oil into our region has been knocked out cold,” said Sharp in the statement. “As we have consistently stated, our people and our treaty-protected natural resources are jeopardized by these oil shipments. This danger is real. We have invested millions of dollars to protect and restore the ecological integrity of our region, and we will not allow Big Oil to destroy it.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/05/19/grain-car-derailment-could-have-been-oil-quinault-raise-alarm-again-154940

Quinault Nation to Re-open Lake Quinault to Regulated Use

Source: Water4fish

TAHOLAH, WA (4/15/14)– The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) Business Committee passed regulations Monday night to reopen Lake Quinault to non-tribal use, but only under specified regulations and restrictions, according to Fawn Sharp, QIN President.

The lake, which belongs to the Quinault Nation, was closed to non-tribal use on June 6, 2013 to safeguard it from pollution, invasive species and other issues of concern. Since that time, numerous nearby non-tribal residents, property owners and business owners in the area have spoken out in support of the Tribe’s actions, saying they appreciate the work being done by Quinault to protect the lake for future generations.

“That has always been our intent,” said Sharp. “Safeguarding our sacred lake for our children and for all the life it sustains is one of our highest priorities. If we can achieve those objectives, and share this precious resource with our non-tribal members, that’s what we will do. We believe it is time to try.”

The Quinault Business Committee passed the Lake Quinault 2014 Fishing, Boating and Use Regulation 2014-01, which allows uses of and on Lake Quinault for a one year time span.

Lake Quinault is located within the boundaries of the Quinault Indian Reservation and is owned up to the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) entirely by the QIN; all persons who enter onto Lake Quinault, within the boundaries of the OHWM, are required to conform to Quinault tribal laws.  Violators who resist or refuse to obey will be subject to confiscation of all gear and boats and enforcement under the Quinault Tribal Code in the Quinault Tribal Court at Taholah.

Quinault Denounces State Fish and Wildlife Commission Process

Water 4fish

TAHOLAH, WA (2/18/14)— “I am extremely disappointed that the State Fish and Wildlife Commission has chosen to unilaterally develop a management policy for Grays Harbor salmon,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation. Her comment referred to a recent news release in which the Commission announced its February 8 approval of a new salmon-management policy to conserve wild salmon runs and clarify catch guidelines for sport and commercial fisheries in the bay.

 

 “As co-managers, the Quinault Nation and State should be working collaboratively and cooperatively to conserve Grays Harbor salmon. Yet the Commission didn’t even bother to meet with us. The Commission’s plan is a stark reminder of the decades-long battles in the federal courts which found that the so-called ‘conservation’ actions of the State of Washington were in fact ‘wise use’ decisions that unlawfully discriminated against treaty fishing.  It is inconceivable that today, some 40 years after the decision of Judge Boldt in US v Washington, the Commission would still choose to ignore tribal rights and interests,” said Sharp.

 

“Quinault Nation has consistently demonstrated leadership in habitat restoration, enhancement and all aspects of good stewardship. The State’s pursuit of fish-killing dams in the Chehalis River and the Commission’s actions reflect continuation of a disturbing pattern.  Rather than confronting the major threat to natural fish production in the Grays Harbor Basin, destruction and degradation of habitats, the Commission has chosen to focus on harvest by a small segment of the fishing community. The State also continues to ignore the orders of federal courts.  Proper management of Grays Harbor fishery resources requires a comprehensive and cohesive approach developed through collaborative processes at state/tribal, regional and even international levels. By acting on its own, the Commission violated the principles of cooperation and trust and even such agreements as the Centennial Accord.  While the Commission’s policy can’t apply to our fisheries, implementation of the Commission’s policy could well set the stage for future conflict and confrontation,” said President Sharp.

Statement from Quinault Nation concerning high winds

Quinault

The Quinault Indian Nation is cooperating with the U.S. Corps of Engineers, which has placed more than 800 tons of rock since 8 a.m. this morning, creating a secondary seawall in preparation for heavy rains and high winds, with gusts anticipated as high as 65-70 m.p.h. over the weekend. The seawall has already been breached in several locations, jeopardizing homes on the Reservation. Swells of 20-35 feet are anticipated. Dump trucks have lined up to dump their loads all day, building a four foot berm so far, all along the sea wall, and work is expected to continue through the night, according to John Preston, Quinault Tribal Emergency Services Coordinator.

“Our first priority is the safety of our people, their property and our natural resources. We will do all in our power to support this project and see that this work gets done,” said Fawn Sharp, Quinault Tribal President.

Quinault Nation Passes Resolution to Oppose Coal Exports

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network, August 16, 2013

The Quinault Indian Business Committee has passed a resolution opposing proposals to export coal from the Pacific Northwest. The resolution, passed Monday, specifically addresses a proposal to transport coal by rail from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming through Washington State for export from Cherry Point in Anacortes. There are other locations in Washington and British Columbia under consideration, including Longview, said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation.

“This resolution is a strong statement by the Quinault Nation and demonstrates its commitment to protect and promote the health, safety and general welfare of our people,” said Sharp, who is also President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. “We have determined that the coal trains are detrimental to the health of our people and to the natural resources of our region, and thus in violation of our treaty-protected rights,” she said.

“We have serious concerns about the long-term effects of pollution caused by burning coal from Asian countries, many of which lack the pollution standards we are used to within the United States. Emissions from coal-fired plants have the potential to further threaten our oceans and fisheries, already severely impacted by the acidification of the water, added Sharp.

The Quinault Indian Nation is signatory to the Treaty with the Quinault of 1855. It, along with other Northwest treaties, has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the federal government, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and is thus legally classified as the “supreme law of the land” under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

“Coal dust and diesel particulates will find their way into our air and waterways as these trains pass along and over our rivers, doing damage to natural resources upon which the Nation depends,” said Sharp. “The United States Environmental Protection Agency, Tribal governments, and  environmental organizations have voiced concerns over the threat to human health these proposals bring because of the adverse health effects of coal dust and diesel pollution, including  bronchitis, emphysema, lung damage, asthma, and cancer. Our elders and our children are particularly vulnerable because of sensitivity to the health effects of fine particles,” she said.

“The Quinault Nation’s treaty fishing right includes a right of access to its traditional fishing, hunting, and gathering sites that will be impacted by increased vessel and rail traffic.

In the Resolution, the Quinault Business Committee expresses its solidarity and support for the “no” position  regarding the Gateway Pacific Terminal proposal adopted by the  Lummi Indian Business Council, based on documented disturbance of sacred burial grounds and proposed fill of that area for the purpose of containing over a hundred acres of coal piles.

The Resolution also endorses the words of Billy Frank, Jr., Nisqually tribal elder and longtime chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission that, “We are at a legal and biological crossroads in our efforts to recover the salmon and preserve our tribal cultures, subsistence, spirituality, and economies. Not since the darkest days of the fishing rights struggle have we feared so deeply for the future of our treaty rights.” Quinault Nation, one of 20 member tribes of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, is signatory to “Treaty Rights at Risk” submitted to the federal government by that Commission. Among other things, that report states that coal export proposals will, in fact, further endanger Treaty Rights.

The Quinault Resolution will be submitted to President Obama, key members of the federal Administration, key members of Congress and to Governor Inslee.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/08/16/quinault-nation-passes-resolution-oppose-coal-exports-150911