Canoe Journey’s message: ‘We need to wake up to what’s happening to Mother Earth’

The canoe from Suquamish embarks on this year's journey to Bella Bella.— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald

The canoe from Suquamish embarks on this year’s journey to Bella Bella.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald

By Richard Walker, North Kitsap Herald

LITTLE BOSTON — Pullers in the 2014 Canoe Journey are in for a long one, a 500-miler to the territory of the Heiltsuk First Nation — Bella Bella, British Columbia. They’ll be richly rewarded for the experience.

They’ll travel through territory so beautiful it will be impossible to forget: Rugged, forested coastlines; island-dotted straits and narrow, glacier-carved passages; through Johnstone Strait, home of the largest resident pod of orcas in the world; along the shores of the Great Bear Rainforest, one of the largest remaining tracts of unspoiled temperate rainforest left in the world.

They’ll also travel waters that are increasingly polluted and under threat.

Pullers will travel the marine highways of their ancestors, past Victoria, which dumps filtered, untreated sewage into the Salish Sea. They’ll travel the routes U.S. energy company Kinder Morgan plans to use to ship 400 tanker loads of tar sands oil each year. Canoes traveling from the north will pass the inlets leading to Kitimat, where crude oil from Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline would be loaded onto tankers bound for Asia; Canada approved the pipeline project on June 17. Canoes from the Lummi Nation near Bellingham will pass Cherry Point, a sacred and environmentally sensitive area where Gateway Pacific proposes a coal train terminal; early site preparation was done without permits and desecrated ancestral burials.

Young activist Ta’kaiya Blaney of the Sliammon First Nation sang of her fears of potential environmental damage to come in her song, “Shallow Waters”:

“Come with me to the emerald sea / Where black gold spills into my ocean dreams.

“Nothing to be found, no life is around / It’s just the sound of mourning in the air.”

Native leaders hope the Canoe Journey calls public attention to the fragility of this environment.

“We need to wake up to what’s happening to Mother Earth,” said Cecile Hansen, chairwoman of the Duwamish Tribe and a great-great-grandniece of Chief Seattle.

“We’re the indigenous people of the land. If anybody should be raising that flag, it should be Native Americans.”

Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman is pulling in the Suquamish canoe to Bella Bella.

WEB-Peg-Deam-flag“The Journey is a cultural, spiritual, ceremonial and social event,” he said. “The Journey can provide a platform for expressing our Tribal values that include habitat protection and improving or protecting water quality. Decisions on if and how to participate in political expressions are decisions made by each Tribal canoe family individually.”

Micah McCarty is a former chairman of the Makah Nation and a member of the board of First Stewards, which seeks to unite indigenous voices to collaboratively advance adaptive climate-change strategies.

He sees the Canoe Journey as an exercise in Tribal sovereignty, particularly in the realm of environmental education.

U.S. v. Washington, also known as the Boldt decision, reaffirmed that Treaty Tribes had reserved for themselves 50 percent of the annual finfish harvest; a later court decision extended that to include shellfish. In addition, Boldt established the state and Treaty Tribes as fisheries co-managers.

“The state-Tribal co-management relationship relative to … US v Washington is more effectively built on Tribal governments assuming more and more of the federal trust responsibility in the spirit of self-governance and by directly investing in Tribally determined education,” he said.

“Native sovereignty is as good as it is practiced and implemented. No one else can do this for us, and the best investment in sovereignty is education by Indian sovereign design — including curriculum pertaining to treaty resource damages [caused by] climate change and carbon pollution, particularly in the form of carbonic acid.”

The Canoe Journey is itself a tool to monitor the health of the sea. In each Canoe Journey since 2008, in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, several canoes carry probes that collect water data and feed the data into a recorder aboard the canoe. The data measures water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH and turbidity.

The USGS is using the data to track water quality and its effects on ecosystem dynamics. You can read the results from 2008-2013 at http://wfrc.usgs.gov/tribal/cswqp/.

It’s the Canoe Journey’s first return to Bella Bella since 1993, when canoes made the long journey north to fulfill a vision of Canoe Journey founders Emmett Oliver and Frank Brown in 1989 after the Paddle to Seattle that was held as part of Washington’s centennial celebration. That 1993 journey sparked a revival in indigenous travel on the marine highways of the ancestors.

En route to the final destination, canoes visit indigenous nations along the way, each stop filled with sharing: traditional foods, languages, songs, dances and teachings. Pulling great distances can test physical and mental discipline. Traveling the way of the ancestors can be a spiritual experience, and songs often come to pullers on the water.

This journey will be as challenging as the 1993 journey. From Little Boston, canoes travel west to Port Angeles, then cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Vancouver Island. They’ll travel north along the east side of the island to Port Hardy, then cross big water from Vancouver Island to the B.C. mainland. As they head north, they’ll pull through passages and channels and will have to time each transit right so they’re not pulling against tides.

More than 100 canoes participated in last year’s journey to the Quinault Nation. The distance and isolated destination in this year’s journey requires a month off for peninsula and South Sound pullers and support crews. Heiltsuk is expecting 54 canoes.

Three Suquamish canoes and one Nisqually canoe departed from Suquamish on June 17, moored overnight in Kingston, then arrived at Point Julia on June 19. Those canoes and one from Port Gamble S’Klallam will depart for Jamestown S’Klallam on June 20, then meet up with canoes from Pacific Coast Tribes at Elwha Klallam. Canoes will cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca on June 22 for Vancouver Island and points north. All are scheduled to arrive in Bella Bella on July 13.

Among those traveling part of the journey: Marylin Bard of Kingston, Emmett Oliver’s daughter. She will travel in a five-person river canoe that was gifted to her father by the Quinault Nation last year.

“We will be traveling the ‘Old Way,’ carrying our own supplies on the canoe,” she wrote in an email. “No support boat, no hosting, just camp along the way. [We] plan to fish and crab for food.”

Get more information about the 2014 Canoe Journey/Paddle to Bella Bella: www.tribaljourneys.ca.

Coast Salish Nations Unite to Protect Salish Sea

salish-seas-protection-graphic

Coast Salish Sea Tribes and Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

202-456-1111

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

 

Governor Jay Inslee

Office of the Governor

PO Box 40002

Olympia, WA 98504-0002

360-902-4111

Governor.wa.gov/contact/default.asp

Chairman Brian Cladoosby, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

Chairman Melvin Sheldon Jr., Tulalip Tribes

Chairman Leonard Forsman, Suquamish Tribe

Chairman Tim Ballew II, Lummi Nation

 

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

Learn about Chief Seattle and his tribe in a pilgrimage to new museum

A new $6 million tribal museum on the Kitsap Peninsula tells the story of the people and culture that produced a man named Seattle.

Originally published January 26, 2013 at 7:00 PM

By Brian J. Cantwell

Seattle Times travel writer

Anybody new to Seattle might wonder about the city’s name. It’s not like New York, named after a place in the “old country,” or Madison, named for a dead president.

Seattle is named for a peace-loving Indian chief — a little classier than Chicago, derived from a native word for wild garlic.

When you’ve been here long enough to be settled in and have a favorite coffee order, it’s time to learn more about your hometown’s heritage. Make a ferry-ride pilgrimage to the Kitsap Peninsula, to the winter home and final resting place of the city’s namesake, Chief Seattle.

And now’s a good time to go, because the chief’s tribe, the Suquamish, has opened a handsome new museum where you can learn all about Chief Seattle’s people and their culture.

One surprise: The chief himself gets a conspicuously modest mention.

2020199114

A Red Hat Society group from Poulsbo learns about a 300-year-old canoe hoisted by sculpted figures of tribal people at the new Suquamish Museum.
Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

The 9,000-square-foot, $6 million tribal museum, which opened in September a few hundred feet from the chief’s grave in the village of Suquamish, replaces a well-respected museum dating to the 1980s.

In part with newfound wealth from its Clearwater Casino, the tribe hired Storyline Studio of Seattle to design new exhibits, and Mithun Architects created a stained-wood building surrounded by native plantings of sword fern, wild currant and cedar.

Inside, it’s a gleaming example of modern museum concepts with a topical “less is more” orientation that doesn’t overwhelm. A single, compact hall showcases artifacts from tribal archives, or even from contemporary tribal members’ attics or family rooms (giving the sense that this is truly “living history”).

In the permanent exhibit, “Ancient Shores — Changing Tides,” simple island-like displays communicate large themes:

• “Teachings of Ancestors” includes a bone sewing needle and a cedar-root basket from the site of Old Man House, the longhouse on a nearby beach where Chief Seattle spent much of his life.

• “Spirit and Vision” has a mystical Tamanowas Stick, a personal-spirit symbol usually buried with a person, and a cedar mask with wild eyebrows and blushing cheeks.

• “Gifts from Land and Water” includes, among other things, a utilitarian clam-digging stick and a mean-looking wooden club used to kill salmon.

• “Shelter, Clothing and Tools” displays old and new, such as a dress astoundingly made of shredded cedar alongside a championship jacket from the 1984 national Indian Slo-Pitch Tournament.

• “Opportunity and Enterprise” are represented by 21 baskets of cedar bark, historically used for gathering clams and berries. (The modern representation of enterprise might be the tribal casino, which collects many “clams” from its patrons.)

• “Wisdom and Understanding” gives a puzzlingly brief nod to Chief Seattle. Context comes from this narrative: “(He) is perhaps the most famous of tribal leaders from the Salish Sea. But for the Suquamish people he was just one of many admired leaders throughout our history, each celebrated for their own unique skills.”

Six other leaders from across the years get the spotlight, with artifacts such as the gavel of Grace Duggan, the tribe’s first judge.

Why not dedicate more space to the leader for whom the big city is named?

“I think that the tribe is consciously trying to move away from (Chief Seattle) being the beginning, middle and end of the tribe,” explained museum director Janet Smoak. “It’s in no way a reflection of less esteem or less respect.”

Exhibits briefly reference Chief Seattle’s famous 1854 speech when he played a key role in treaty negotiations as his people were moved to reservations (see the speech’s full text on the tribe’s website at www.suquamish.nsn.us; search for “speech”). A peaceable man in tune with the Earth, he noted with melancholy that “my people are ebbing away like a fast receding tide that will never flow again.” Yet he also delivered a burning message that his people’s spirits will forever inhabit this land.

Something the museum does well: a historical multimedia production, creatively projected from above onto three child-level platforms, showing happy times — old-time salmon roasts — and less happy, when tribal children forcibly attended military-type schools after Teddy Roosevelt declared America “would make good citizens of all the Indians.”

The museum’s trumping centerpiece is a carved canoe, more than 300 years old, used in the 1989 Paddle to Seattle, the first of a now-annual series of intertribal-canoe journeys around the Salish Sea. Hoisting it are six sculpted figures representing the Suquamish from ancient times to present, including two sea otters “from before the great changer came and made people into people and animals into animals,” Smoak explained, citing the kind of beliefs that defined the tribe.

Closer to the man

If you want to feel closer to the man Seattle, head a short ways down South Street to the cemetery adjacent to St. Peter’s Catholic Mission, circa 1904.

Reflecting varying spellings of both his name and that of his tribe, based on changing interpretations of the native language, a white marble marker is inscribed “Seattle, Chief of the Suguampsh and Allied tribes, died June 7, 1866, The firm friend of the whites, and for him the City of Seattle was named by its founders.” Below that, the other name by which he was commonly known: “Sealth.”

Here you’ll see more plainly how the tribe honors him, in the form of significant improvements made to the gravesite in 2009 with $200,000 plus in grants split between the tribe and the city of Seattle. Flanking the stone are beautifully carved 12-foot cedar “story posts” that highlight moments from the chief’s life, such as his childhood sighting of Capt. George Vancouver’s exploration ships in1792.

Also added was a retaining wall etched in the native Lushootseed language and in English with messages such as “The soil is rich with the life of our kindred.” A wheelchair-friendly path connects to the parking lot, and visitors may rest on benches shaped like Suquamish canoes.

Ending your journey

Walk through the village to see more changes new money has brought to Suquamish, such as the charmingly named House of Awakened Culture, a waterfront community center devoted to such activities as classes in language, weaving and carving.

Browse native art at Rain Bear Studio or grab lunch at Bella Luna Pizzeria, a rub-elbows nine-table eatery perched on pilings over the waterfront.

Better yet, on a sunny day, pack a lunch to Old Man House Park, historic site of the chief’s longhouse, five minutes away. Sit on a log and take in the view that Chief Seattle’s people still love: narrow and scenic Agate Passage on one side, and on the other a panorama of snowy mountains across diamond-glinting waves of the salty sound.

In its day, this beach was where a native leader could take in all of his world, or all of it that mattered.

Brian J. Cantwell: 206-748-5724 or bcantwell@seattletimes.com

 

 

 

If you go

The land of Chief Seattle

Source, ESRI TeleAtlas

Source, ESRI TeleAtlas

Where

From Seattle, take Washington State Ferries from Pier 52 to Bainbridge Island. Follow Highway 305 north toward Poulsbo. After the Agate Passage bridge, take the first right to Suquamish Way. In 1.2 miles, turn left at Division Avenue and then immediately right on South Street to the Suquamish Museum, 6861 N.E. South St. ($3-$5, www.suquamishmuseum.org).

Go a short distance further east on South Street to Chief Seattle’s gravesite. Continue downhill to the village center.

To reach Old Man House Park, from Suquamish Way take Division Avenue south and follow the arterial for .3 mile.

Special event

At 3 p.m. Feb. 23, the museum dedicates a new 40-foot-long wall-mounted timeline of tribal history with a lecture/presentation by Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman and Tribal Archaeologist Dennis Lewarch.

Lodging

Stay at the tribe’s 85-room waterfront hotel, part of Clearwater Casino Resort. Free daily breakfast in lobby with tribal art, fireplace and expansive views. Pool, hot tub, spa. Winter rates: $169 for a view room on a weekend. 15347 Suquamish Way N.E., www.clearwatercasino.com/hotel

Restaurants

The casino has a buffet, cafe and a steakhouse. On Wednesday and Thursday nights, 2-for-1 specials for club members can overcrowd the buffet (the Thursday I visited, there was a 90-minute wait for a buffet table at 6 p.m.). That steered me and my wife to an endearingly corny checkered-tablecloth bistro in old-town Poulsbo, That’s-a-Some Italian Ristorante, 18881 Front St. N.E.; www.thatsasome.com.

For lunch, try the $2.50 slices at Bella Luna Pizzeria, 18408 Angeline Ave. N.E., Suquamish; www.bellalunapizza.com.

More information

Suquamish Tribe: www.suquamish.nsn.us

Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau, www.visitkitsap.com

Federal appointment for Suquamish Tribe chairman

File photoSuquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman ... appointed by President Obama to the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

File photo
Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman … appointed by President Obama to the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Source: North Kitsap Herald

SUQUAMISH — President Obama on Wednesday announced his intent to appoint Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman to the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

The announcement was made Wednesday by the White House Office of the Press Secretary. Forsman said the appointment will not affect his service as Suquamish chairman; the advisory council meets quarterly. It is not a paid position.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (www.achp.gov) is an independent federal agency that promotes “the preservation, enhancement, and productive use of our nation’s historic resources,” and advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy.

According to the agency’s website, “The goal of the National Historic Preservation Act, which established the ACHP in 1966, is to have federal agencies act as responsible stewards of our nation’s resources when their actions affect historic properties. The ACHP is the only entity with the legal responsibility to encourage federal agencies to factor historic preservation into federal project requirements.

“… the ACHP serves as the primary federal policy advisor to the President and Congress; recommends administrative and legislative improvements for protecting our nation’s heritage; advocates full consideration of historic values in federal decisionmaking; and reviews federal programs and policies to promote effectiveness, coordination, and consistency with national preservation policies.”

In a statement released by his press secretary, Obama said of Forsman and Margaret W. Burcham, who he intends to appoint to the Mississippi River Commission: “I am confident that these outstanding individuals will greatly serve the American people in their new roles and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

Forsman has been chairman of the Suquamish Tribe since 2005. He earned a  bachelor of arts in anthropology from the University of Washington and a master of arts in historic preservation from Goucher College.

Forsman was director of the Suquamish Museum from 1984 to 1990, and has served on the museum Board of Directors since 2010. He was a research archaeologist for Larson Anthropological/Archaeological Services in Seattle from 1992 to 2003.

He has been a member of the Tribal Leaders Congress on Education since 2005, the Suquamish Tribal Cultural Cooperative Committee since 2006, the Washington State Historical Society board since 2007, and was vice president of the Washington Indian Gaming Association in 2010. He is also a member of the state Board on Geographic Names.

Forsman said, “I want to build on the advisory council’s efforts to recognize and protect those cultural resources that are important to Tribes —  the cultural landscape and sacred places that have been neglected — and provide Tribes more resources to protect those places to the best of our ability.”