5 More Native American Visionaries in Washington State

Richard Walker, Indian Country Today Media Network

As the holidays kick in and people start looking ahead to the coming year, it is only fitting to acknowledge the leaders who will take Indian country into the future. Last month we brought you five Native leaders who are protecting rights, exercising sovereignty, building intercultural bridges and meeting future energy needs, among other accomplishments.

RELATED: 5 Visionaries Who See a Brighter Future for Indian Country

Now we bring five more who are rocking the world with their forward thinking, their innovation and their sense of social justice. With 29 of the 566 federally recognized indigenous nations located in what is now Washington State, the Evergreen State is a hotbed of visionary ideas.

1. Brian Cladoosby, Swinomish Tribe: Political and Environmental Leader

Brian Cladoosby
Brian Cladoosby

The Swinomish Tribe chairman and recently elected president of the National Congress of American Indians has been at the forefront of calls to study and adapt to climate change, especially in Indian Country. During his chairmanship of the Swinomish, Cladoosby developed an initiative to determine how climate change may affect coastal communities, assess the possible impacts and develop an action plan, including coastal protection measures and development code changes.

RELATED: Brian Cladoosby Is President of National Congress of American Indians  

Cladoosby collaborated with the U.S. Geological Survey to launch the Canoe Journey Water Quality Project. Canoes participating in the journey carry probes that collect information on water temperature, salinity, pH levels, dissolved oxygen and turbidity in the Salish Sea. The data is used to identify and map possible sources of water quality degradation.

RELATED: Swinomish Chairman Cladoosby Honored

Under Cladoosby’s leadership the Swinomish have reclaimed lands, including environmentally sensitive lands and tidelands, lost during the allotment era or by executive order—Kiket Island in 2009, and this year more than 250 acres that had been removed from the reservation by the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant.

The Swinomish Police Department is the first tribal police department in Washington state to earn state accreditation, giving it the same authority as municipal departments to enforce state law.

“A visionary dedicated to serving the needs of his people, Brian brings together a strong focus on environmental stewardship, productive dialogue, and spiritual connectedness,” Ecotrust wrote of Cladoosby in bestowing its 2012 Indigenous Leadership Award.

RELATED: Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award Honors Five, Welcomes Them to Rising Leadership Network

2. Tracy Rector, Seminole/Choctaw: Taking the Art of Storytelling Digital

Tracy Rector (Photo: Lou Karsen)
Tracy Rector (Photo: Lou Karsen)

Rector’s Longhouse Media is using new media to give voice to a young generation of indigenous storytellers.

Longhouse Media teaches digital filmmaking and media skills to indigenous youth to foment self-expression, cultural preservation and social change. Since 2003, Native youth have created more than 20 short films that have screened on television and in national and international film festivals.

RELATED: Seventh SuperFly Film Workshop Wraps in Seattle

Native youth worked on the award-winning feature-length documentary March Point, which chronicles the journey of two young men as they investigate the impact of oil refineries on their community. Other films explored the significance of the canoe in the Coast Salish way of life, the impacts of domestic violence, the dangers of drug abuse among young people and the importance of leading by example, the negative affects of spreading rumors, the connection between eating healthily and living healthy, and hip-hop music and dance as a way of staying sober and making healthy choices.

“We believe in Native youth telling their own stories about life, culture, and community, and understand the power of this process to change peoples’ lives,” said Rector, who was appointed this year to the City of Seattle Arts Commission, writing on her website.

RELATED: 3 Washington Native Leaders, Quinault Adviser Named to Key Positions

3. Matika Wilbur, Tulalip/Swinomish: Erasing Stereotypes, Photo by Photo

Courtesy of Matika Wilbur
Courtesy of Matika Wilbur

Wilbur’s Project 562 is changing the way the world sees America’s First Peoples. One year into a three-year project photographing Native America, it is already spawning exhibits. Last June she participated in a prestigious TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Seattle, speaking about “Surviving Disappearance, Re-Imagining & Humanizing Native Peoples.”

Wilbur is traveling across the U.S. by car and RV with her Mamiya film camera and Canon EOS 7D, with the mission to photograph people from every indigenous nation in America—peoples and cultures that are not only alive but also are thriving, a force in American life.

“People understand that we survived, but the stereotypes remain,” Wilbur said in an interview. She said her goal is to “build cultural bridges, abandon stereotypes, and renew and inspire our national legacy” and to reveal the enduring richness and complex variety of Native America.

“Our goal is to unveil the true essence of contemporary Native issues, the beauty of Native culture, the magnitude of tradition, and expose her vitality,” Wilbur states on her website.

RELATED: Photographer Matika Wilbur’s Three-Year, 562-Tribe Adventure

The number 562 represents the number of indigenous nations that were federally recognized when she began developing the project; there are now 566. “The number 562 is a ‘jumping-off point,’ if you will,” she said, adding that she intends to include people from non-recognized Nations as well.

The project is funded by donations generated mostly by a Kickstarter campaign. When completed, the work will comprise a book, exhibitions, lecture series, website and a curriculum.

RELATED: Video: Meet Matika Wilbur: She’s Coming to Your Nation Soon, Smile!

It’s the fourth major project by the social documentarian. Previously Wilbur photographed Coast Salish elders for the exhibit “We Are One People.” She put Native people in contemporary settings for the exhibit “We Emerge,” and photographed young Native people expressing their identities in modern ways in “Save the Indian and Kill The Man.”

Matika Wilbur: Indian Enough Photography Exhibit Opens in Ohio

4. Fawn Sharp, Quinault: Taking Tribes Global

Fawn Sharp
Fawn Sharp

Sharp has turned the Quinault Nation presidency into a bully pulpit on national and international issues. She has called for the seating of representatives of indigenous nations at the U.N.; doing so will foster dialogue to “eliminate violence against indigenous nations caused by rampant development which pollute lands and waters and force Indigenous Peoples out of their territories.”

RELATED: Fawn Sharp Calls for Seating of Indigenous Nations in United Nations

Sharp also called for establishment of a permanent indigenous body with authority to promote and monitor the rights of indigenous peoples; for an international conference on violence against indigenous women and children; and for U.N. members to formalize government-to-government negotiations between them and indigenous governments as a principal method for conflict resolution.

RELATED: The Quinault Nation’s New Era of International Diplomacy  

The federal government’s shutdown also came in her sights.

“Those who are responsible for this mismanagement will be held to account come election time,” she vowed at the time.

Sharp is a lawyer who serves as president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and regional vice president of the National Congress of American Indians.

“I spent many hours away from home and from my family carefully cultivating key relationships to build a positive, strong and respectable reputation for the Quinault Indian Nation,” she wrote this year in the Quinault newspaper, The Nugguam. “Developing such political muscle has opened doors for us that otherwise would not be open, giving us the credibility we need to … protect sovereignty, protect the environment, secure funding and open international trade opportunities.”

RELATED: Fawn Sharp: Conference Appreciated but ‘We Need More’

5. Gil Calac, Paiute: Getting Veterans Their Due

Gil Calac (Photo courtesy Valerie Calac)
Gil Calac (Photo courtesy Valerie Calac)

A Vietnam War veteran living on the Yakama Reservation, Calac’s tireless campaign is winning official recognition of, and starting the healing process for, his fellow Vietnam veterans.

When U.S. military personnel came home from Vietnam, many with injuries and memories that still haunt them decades later, there was no welcome.

“They were not treated like heroes as those who returned from Korea and World War II,” said Washington State Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Toppenish. “Instead, they were portrayed as baby killers, warmongers and other things.… That had a traumatic effect on these soldiers that is still painful to these days as many of them refuse to talk about their experiences.”

Calac’s efforts this year led to the adoption of State House Bill 1319, which establishes March 30 of every year as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” in Washington state. The bill, introduced by Johnson and co-sponsored by 38 state House members, was unanimously approved by the House and Senate.

RELATED: Native Warrior’s Efforts Lead Washington State to Observe Annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day

Thanks to Calec, all public buildings and schools are required to fly the POW/MIA flag every March 30.

The veteran’s compelling testimony moved legislators to act quickly on the bill. At a hearing before the Senate Committee on Governmental Operations, Calac said that Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day would help veterans “put away our guilt, the shame, the grief and despair,” and heal from the animosity veterans faced when they returned home.

Calac hopes to see Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day established nationwide.

RELATED: Natives Lead All Star Cast of Veterans at MLB Midsummer Classic

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/12/03/5-more-native-american-visionaries-washington-state-152528

Tribal Nations Early Climate Adaptation Planners

Terri Hansen, Intercontinental Cry

Much has been made of the need to develop climate-change-adaptation plans, especially in light of increasingly alarming findings about how swiftly the environment that sustains life as we know it is deteriorating, and how the changes compound one another to quicken the pace overall. Studies, and numerous climate models, and the re-analysis of said studies and climate models, all point to humankind as the main driver of these changes. In all these dire pronouncements and warnings there is one bright spot: It may not be too late to turn the tide and pull Mother Earth back from the brink.

None of this is new to the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. Besides already understanding much about environmental issues via millennia of historical perspective, Natives are at the forefront of these changes and have been forced to adapt. Combining their preexisting knowledge with their still-keen ability to read environmental signs, these tribes are way ahead of the curve, with climate-change plans either in the making or already in effect.

Swinomish Tribe: From Proclamation to Action

On the southeastern peninsula of Fidalgo Island in Washington State, the Swinomish were the first tribal nation to pass a Climate Change proclamation, which they did in 2007. Since then they have implemented a concrete action plan.

The catalyst came in 2006, when a strong storm surge pushed tides several feet above normal, flooding and damaging reservation property. Heightening awareness of climate change in general, it became the tribe’s impetus for determining appropriate responses. The tribe began a two-year project in 2008, issued an impact report in 2009 and an action plan in 2010, said project coordinator and senior planner Ed Knight. The plan identified a number of proposed “next step” implementation projects, several of them now under way: coastal protection measures, code changes, community health assessment and wildfire protection, among others.

The tribe won funding through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Administration for Native Americans to support the $400,000 Swinomish Climate Change Initiative, of which the tribe funded 20 percent. When work began in 2008, most estimates for sea level rise by the end of the century were in the range of one to one-and-a-half feet, with temperature changes ranging from three to five degrees Fahrenheit, said Knight. But those estimates did not take into account major melting in the Arctic, Antarctica and Greenland, he said.

“Now, the latest reports reflect accelerated rates” of sea level rise and temperature increases, Knight said. Those are three to four feet or more, and six to nine degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, by 2100. “We are currently passing 400 ppm of CO2, on track for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change worst-case scenarios.”

Since the Swinomish started work on climate issues, many tribes across the country have become active on these issues as they also realize the potential impacts to their communities and resources. The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) has been funded over the last few years to conduct climate adaptation training, Knight said, “and probably more than 100 tribes have now received training on this.”

Jamestown S’Klallam: Rising Sea Levels and Ocean Acidification

Jamestown S’Klallam tribal citizens live in an ecosystem that has sustained them for thousands of years, on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. Over the past two centuries they have successfully navigated societal changes, all while maintaining a connection to the resource-rich ecosystem of the region. Though they have also adapted to past climate variations, the magnitude and rapid rate of current and projected climate change prompted them to step it up. That became apparent when tribal members noticed ocean acidification in the failure of oyster and shellfish larvae.

The Jamestown S'Klallam work on rising sea levels and ocean acidification. (Photo: ClimateAdaptation.org
The Jamestown S’Klallam work on rising sea levels and ocean acidification. (Photo: ClimateAdaptation.org)

 

“Everyone who was part of the advisory group all had their personal testimony as to the changes they’d seen,” said Hansi Hals, the tribe’s environmental planning program manager, describing a meeting of a sideline group. “Everybody had something to say.”

Tribal members brought their concerns to the attention of the Natural Resources committee and tribal council three years ago, Hals said. This past summer they released their climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation plan, which identified key tribal resources, outlined the expected impacts from climate change and created adaptation strategies for each resource. It included sea-level-rise maps are for three time frames, near (low), mid-century (medium) and end of century (high).

Mescalero Apache: Bolstering Tribal Resilience

Tribal lands of the Mescalero Apache in southwestern New Mexico flank the Sacramento Mountains and border Lincoln National Forest, where increased frequency and intensity of wildfires is due to drought-compromised woodlands. Mike Montoya, director of the Mescalero Apache Tribe’s Fisheries Department, executive director of the Southwest Tribal Fisheries Commission and project leader for the Sovereign Nations Service Corps, a Mescalero-based AmeriCorps program, has observed climate-driven changes to the landscape in his years in natural resource management.

Mescalero Apache Tribe's holding pond can contain 500,000 gallons of water and nourishes the community garden. (Photo courtesy Mescalero Apache Tribe)

Mescalero Apache Tribe’s holding pond can contain 500,000 gallons of water and nourishes the community garden. (Photo courtesy Mescalero Apache Tribe)

 

The tribe has undertaken innovative environmental initiatives to help bolster tribal resilience to climate change impacts, Montoya said. One example is a pond constructed for alternative water supply to the fish hatchery in the event of a catastrophic flood event. It holds 500,000 gallons of water from a river 3,600 feet away.

“It’s all gravity fed,” Montoya said. “Now, with the aid of solar powered water pumps, we are able to supply water to our community garden.”

Karuk Tribe: Integrating Traditional Knowledge into Climate Science

With lands within and around the Klamath River and Six Rivers National Forests in northern California, the Klamath Tribe is implementing parts of its Eco-Cultural Resources Management Draft Plan released in 2010. The plan synthesizes the best available science, locally relevant observations and Traditional Ecological Knowledge to help the Karuk create an integrated approach to addressing natural resource management and confront the potential impacts of climate change.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes: Strategic Planning

Fire management planning on Salish and Kootenai tribal lands in Montana. (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Fire management planning on Salish and Kootenai tribal lands in Montana. (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

 

These tribes, who live in what is today known as Montana, issued a climate change proclamation in November 2012 and adopted a Climate Change Strategic Plan in 2013. The Tribal Science Council identified climate change and traditional ecological knowledge as the top two priorities for tribes across the nation in June 2011, according to Michael Durglo, the tribe’s division of environmental protection manager and climate change planning coordinator, as well as the National Tribal Science Council’s Region 8 representative.

So did the Inter-Tribal Timber Council, which his brother, Jim Durglo, is involved with. In fall 2012 the confederated tribes received financial support through groups affiliated with the Kresge foundation and from the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative to develop plans, Michael Durglo said. A year later, in September 2013, the tribes’ Climate Change Strategic Plan was completed and approved by the Tribal Council. Next the tribes will establish a Climate Change Oversight Committee.

“This committee will monitor progress, coordinate funding requests, continue research of [Traditional Ecological Knowledge], incorporate the strategic planning results into other guiding documents such as the Flathead Reservation Comprehensive Resource Management Plan and others, and update the plan on a regular basis based on updated science,” said Michael Durglo.

Nez Perce: Preservation Via Carbon Sequestration

More than a decade ago the Nez Perce Tribe, of the Columbia River Plateau in northern Idaho, recognized carbon sequestration on forested lands as a means of preserving natural resources and generating jobs and income, while reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. [With the over arching goal of restoration,] in the mid to late 1990s the Nez Perce Forestry & Fire Management Division developed a carbon offset strategy to market carbon sequestration credits. The purpose of the afforestation project, about 400 acres in size, was to establish marketable carbon offsets, develop an understanding of potential carbon markets and cover the costs of project implementation and administration.

nez_perce_tramway_before_after-nez_perce

Nez Perce project before and after. (Photo: NAU ITEP)

 

As carbon markets soften and actual project development slows, the tribe cites the increased awareness and education of other tribes of the carbon sales process and opportunities for more carbon sequestration projects in Indian country as its biggest accomplishment of the last two years.

Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians: Attacking Greenhouse Gas Emissions

This tribe in southern California has taken numerous steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change on tribal peoples, land and resources. In 1998 the tribe formed the Santa Ynez Chumash Environmental Office.

“We are also looking into opening a public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station, replacing our fleet with CNG vehicles, are installing EV charging stations, implementing an innovative home, and building upgrade training program through an EPA Climate Showcase Communities grant,” said Santa Ynez environmental director Joshua Simmons.

SYCEO’s projects are numerous and have had impressive results, including major reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. An example is the Chumash Casino’s implementation of a shuttle bus program that eliminated 800,000 car trips in 2009, replacing them with 66,000 bus trips. The casino is reducing its energy consumption, chemical waste and use of one-use materials. It also has an extensive rainwater and gray water collection and treatment system. Many of these initiatives have economic benefits and provide a model and economic incentive for tribal and non-tribal businesses to implement similar changes.

Newtok Village: Ultimate Adaptation Plan—Evacuation

This Native village on the western coast of Alaska is home to some of the U.S.’s first climate refugees. They leapfrogged over mere adaptation-mitigation as sea and river cut through and then eroded the permafrost beneath their village and a 1983 assessment found that the community would be endangered within 25 to 30 years. In 1994 Newtok began work on what then seemed the ultimate adaptation plan: relocation.

The Native Alaskan village of Newtok had to relocate as its shoreline was washed away because of melting permafrost. (Photo: Newtok Planning Group)

The Native Alaskan village of Newtok had to relocate as its shoreline was washed away because of melting permafrost. (Photo: Newtok Planning Group)

 

They selected Mertarvik nine miles to the south as the relocation site in 1996. Their efforts intensified when a study by the Army Corps of Engineers found that the highest point in the village would be below sea level by 2017. The Newtok community, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations formed the Newtok Planning Group in 2006, but as Newtok’s administrator Stanley Tom searched for funding he struck little pay dirt. Mostly, he hit walls. Now Tom is calling for evacuation, exposing it as the true ultimate in adaptation.

“It’s really happening right now,” He told the Guardian last May. “The village is sinking and flooding and eroding.”

Tom told the British newspaper that he was moving his own belongings to the new, still very sparse village site over the summer–and advised fellow villagers to start doing the same.

National Congress of American Indians Elects New Executive Committee, Bids Farewell To President Jefferson Keel

Source: National Congress of American Indians
Tulsa, OK – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) elected a new Executive Committee today at the 70th Annual Convention & Marketplace. The Executive Committee is charged with advancing the mission of NCAI to protect and advance tribal sovereignty by representing the issues and priorities of tribal nations throughout the country.
 
President: Brian Cladoosby, Chairman, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
First Vice President: Michael Finley, Chairman, Colville Tribes
Recording Secretary: Robert Shepard, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate
Treasurer: Dennis Welsh, Jr., Tribal Council Member, Colorado River Indian Tribes
Regional Vice Presidents: Announced Friday, October 18th
 
The Executive Committee is elected by NCAI membership: the President, First Vice President, Recording Secretary, and Treasurer are elected by the entire membership; and the twelve Regional Vice Presidents are elected by each respective region. Each of these officers is a member of the NCAI board and serves a two-year term to begin Friday, October 18, 2013.
 
Two-term President Jefferson Keel will step down Friday, October 18th. President Keel honored NCAI with his leadership, elevated the role of the organization, and served tribal nations well. He remains a valued and respected leader within NCAI and throughout Indian Country.

8 Tribes That Are Way Ahead of the Climate-Adaptation Curve

By Terri Hansen, ICTMN

Much has been made of the need to develop climate-change-adaptation plans, especially in light of increasingly alarming findings about how swiftly the environment that sustains life as we know it is deteriorating, and how the changes compound one another to quicken the pace overall. Studies, and numerous climate models, and the re-analysis of said studies and climate models, all point to humankind as the main driver of these changes. In all these dire pronouncements and warnings there is one bright spot: It may not be too late to turn the tide and pull Mother Earth back from the brink.

RELATED: No Doubt: Humans Responsible for Climate Change, U.N. Panel Finds

None of this is new to the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. Besides already understanding much about environmental issues via millennia of historical perspective, Natives are at the forefront of these changes and have been forced to adapt. Combining their preexisting knowledge with their still-keen ability to read environmental signs, these tribes are way ahead of the curve, with climate-change plans either in the making or already in effect.

RELATED: Adapt to Climate Change, Now

1. Swinomish Tribe: From Proclamation to Action

On the southeastern peninsula of Fidalgo Island in Washington State, the Swinomish were the first tribal nation to pass a Climate Change proclamation, which they did in 2007. Since then they have implemented a concrete action plan.

The catalyst came in 2006, when a strong storm surge pushed tides several feet above normal, flooding and damaging reservation property. Heightening awareness of climate change in general, it became the tribe’s impetus for determining appropriate responses. The tribe began a two-year project in 2008, issued an impact report in 2009 and an action plan in 2010, said project coordinator and senior planner Ed Knight. The plan identified a number of proposed “next step” implementation projects, several of them now under way: coastal protection measures, code changes, community health assessment and wildfire protection, among others.

The tribe won funding through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Administration for Native Americans to support the $400,000 Swinomish Climate Change Initiative, of which the tribe funded 20 percent. When work began in 2008, most estimates for sea level rise by the end of the century were in the range of one to one-and-a-half feet, with temperature changes ranging from three to five degrees Fahrenheit, said Knight. But those estimates did not take into account major melting in the Arctic, Antarctica and Greenland, he said.

“Now, the latest reports reflect accelerated rates” of sea level rise and temperature increases, Knight said. Those are three to four feet or more, and six to nine degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, by 2100. “We are currently passing 400 ppm of CO2, on track for [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] worst-case scenarios.”

RELATED: Global CO2 Concentrations Reaching High of 400 ppm for First Time in Human History

Since the Swinomish started work on climate issues, many tribes across the country have become active on these issues as they also realize the potential impacts to their communities and resources. The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) has been funded over the last few years to conduct climate adaptation training, Knight said, “and probably more than 100 tribes have now received training on this.”

2. Jamestown S’Klallam: Rising Sea Levels and Ocean Acidification

Jamestown S’Klallam tribal citizens live in an ecosystem that has sustained them for thousands of years, on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. Over the past two centuries they have successfully navigated societal changes, all while maintaining a connection to the resource-rich ecosystem of the region. Though they have also adapted to past climate variations, the magnitude and rapid rate of current and projected climate change prompted them to step it up. That became apparent when tribal members noticed ocean acidification in the failure of oyster and shellfish larvae.

The Jamestown S'Klallam are dealing with rising sea levels and ocean acidification. (Photo: ClimateAdaptation.org)
The Jamestown S’Klallam are dealing with rising sea levels and ocean acidification. (Photo: ClimateAdaptation.org)

“Everyone who was part of the advisory group all had their personal testimony as to the changes they’d seen,” said Hansi Hals, the tribe’s environmental planning program manager, describing a meeting of a sideline group. “Everybody had something to say.”

Tribal members brought their concerns to the attention of the Natural Resources committee and tribal council three years ago, Hals said. This past summer they released their climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation plan, which identified key tribal resources, outlined the expected impacts from climate change and created adaptation strategies for each resource. It included sea-level-rise maps are for three time frames, near (low), mid-century (medium) and end of century (high).

3. Mescalero Apache: Bolstering Tribal Resilience

Tribal lands of the Mescalero Apache in southwestern New Mexico flank the Sacramento Mountains and border Lincoln National Forest, where increased frequency and intensity of wildfires is due to drought-compromised woodlands. Mike Montoya, director of the Mescalero Apache Tribe’s Fisheries Department, executive director of the Southwest Tribal Fisheries Commission and project leader for the Sovereign Nations Service Corps, a Mescalero-based AmeriCorps program, has observed climate-driven changes to the landscape in his years in natural resource management.

Mescalero Apache Tribe’s holding pond can contain 500,000 gallons of water and nourishes the community garden. (Photo courtesy Mescalero Apache Tribe)
Mescalero Apache Tribe’s holding pond can contain 500,000 gallons of water and nourishes the community garden. (Photo courtesy Mescalero Apache Tribe)

The tribe has undertaken innovative environmental initiatives to help bolster tribal resilience to climate change impacts, Montoya said. One example is a pond constructed for alternative water supply to the fish hatchery in the event of a catastrophic flood event. It holds 500,000 gallons of water from a river 3,600 feet away.

“It’s all gravity fed,” Montoya said. “Now, with the aid of solar powered water pumps, we are able to supply water to our community garden.”

4. Karuk Tribe: Defending the Klamath River

With lands within and around the Klamath River and Six Rivers National Forests in northern California, the Klamath Tribe is implementing parts of its Eco-Cultural Resources Management Draft Plan released in 2010. The plan synthesizes the best available science, locally relevant observations and Traditional Ecological Knowledge to help the Karuk create an integrated approach to addressing natural resource management and confront the potential impacts of climate change.

5. Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes: Strategic Planning

Fire management planning on Salish and Kootenai tribal lands in Montana. (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Fire management planning on Salish and Kootenai tribal lands in Montana. (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

These tribes, who live in what is today known as Montana, issued a climate change proclamation in November 2012 and adopted a Climate Change Strategic Plan in 2013. The Tribal Science Council identified climate change and traditional ecological knowledge as the top two priorities for tribes across the nation in June 2011, according to Michael Durglo, the tribe’s division of environmental protection manager and climate change planning coordinator, as well as the National Tribal Science Council’s Region 8 representative.

So did the Inter-Tribal Timber Council, which his brother, Jim Durglo, is involved with. In fall 2012 the confederated tribes received financial support through groups affiliated with the Kresge foundation and from the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative to develop plans, Michael Durglo said. A year later, in September 2013, the tribes’ Climate Change Strategic Plan was completed and approved by the Tribal Council. Next the tribes will establish a Climate Change Oversight Committee.

“This committee will monitor progress, coordinate funding requests, continue research of [Traditional Ecological Knowledge], incorporate the strategic planning results into other guiding documents such as the Flathead Reservation Comprehensive Resource Management Plan and others, and update the plan on a regular basis based on updated science,” said Michael Durglo.

6. Nez Perce: Preservation Via Carbon Sequestration

More than a decade ago the Nez Perce Tribe, of the Columbia River Plateau in northern Idaho, recognized carbon sequestration on forested lands as a means of preserving natural resources and generating jobs and income, while reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. In the mid to late 1990s the Nez Perce Forestry & Fire Management Division developed a carbon offset strategy to market carbon sequestration credits. The purpose of the afforestation project, about 400 acres in size, was to establish marketable carbon offsets, develop an understanding of potential carbon markets and cover the costs of project implementation and administration.

Nez Perce project before and after. (Photo: NAU ITEP)
Nez Perce project before and after. (Photo: NAU ITEP)

As carbon markets soften and actual project development slows, the tribe cites the increased awareness and education of other tribes of the carbon sales process and opportunities for more carbon sequestration projects in Indian country as its biggest accomplishment of the last two years.

Photo: NAU ITEP
Photo: NAU ITEP

7. Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians: Attacking Greenhouse Gas Emissions

This tribe in southern California has taken numerous steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change on tribal peoples, land and resources. In 1998 the tribe formed the Santa Ynez Chumash Environmental Office.

“We are also looking into opening a public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station, replacing our fleet with CNG vehicles, are installing EV charging stations, implementing an innovative home, and building upgrade training program through an EPA Climate Showcase Communities grant,” said Santa Ynez environmental director Joshua Simmons.

SYCEO’s projects are numerous and have had impressive results, including major reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. An example is the Chumash Casino’s implementation of a shuttle bus program that eliminated 800,000 car trips in 2009, replacing them with 66,000 bus trips. The casino is reducing its energy consumption, chemical waste and use of one-use materials. It also has an extensive rainwater and gray water collection and treatment system. Many of these initiatives have economic benefits and provide a model and economic incentive for tribal and non-tribal businesses to implement similar changes.

8. Newtok Village: Ultimate Adaptation Plan—Evacuation

This Native village on the western coast of Alaska is home to some of the U.S.’s first climate refugees. They leapfrogged over mere adaptation-mitigation as sea and river cut through and then eroded the permafrost beneath their village and a 1983 assessment found that the community would be endangered within 25 to 30 years. In 1994 Newtok began work on what then seemed the ultimate adaptation plan: relocation.

The Native Alaskan village of Newtok had to relocate as its shoreline was washed away because of melting permafrost. (Photo: Newtok Planning Group)
The Native Alaskan village of Newtok had to relocate as its shoreline was washed away because of melting permafrost. (Photo: Newtok Planning Group)

They selected Mertarvik nine miles to the south as the relocation site in 1996. Their efforts intensified when a study by the Army Corps of Engineers found that the highest point in the village would be below sea level by 2017. The Newtok community, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations formed the Newtok Planning Group in 2006, but as Newtok’s administrator Stanley Tom searched for funding he struck little pay dirt. Mostly, he hit walls. Now Tom is calling for evacuation, exposing it as the true ultimate in adaptation.

“It’s really happening right now,” He told the Guardian last May. “The village is sinking and flooding and eroding.”

Tom told the British newspaper that he was moving his own belongings to the new, still very sparse village site over the summer–and advised fellow villagers to start doing the same.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/10/15/8-tribes-are-way-ahead-climate-adaptation-curve-151763

Tribe Prevails In Washington State Legal Battle for Water for Salmon

Swinomish Tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby

Swinomish Tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby

Source: Native News Network

SWINOMISH INDIAN RESERVATION – The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community learned Thursday that the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in the Tribe’s favor in a challenge to the Skagit River Instream Flow Rule amendments adopted in 2006 by the Washington Department of Ecology.

The Court’s October 3 decision concludes that Ecology department’s 2006 Skagit Rule amendments are invalid because they are inconsistent with Washington State’s laws to protect minimum instream flows for fish and other environmental values.

“This decision is a huge victory for Swinomish, for salmon, and for the water that salmon need to survive. Ecology had a choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing in 2006, and unfortunately, it chose to do the wrong thing. The Court’s decision vindicates the Tribe’s position and confirms that Ecology cannot make an ‘end run’ around laws that protect instream flows for fish,”

said Swinomish Tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby.

The 2006 Rule amendments radically changed Ecology department’s original rule, which was adopted in 2001. The 2001 Skagit Instream Flow Rule established minimum instream flow levels for the Skagit River and several important tributaries.

“We spent years collaborating on what became the 2001 Rule with the City of Anacortes, the Public Utility District, Skagit County, Upper Skagit and Sauk-Suiattle Tribes and the State of Washington. The result of those efforts was a good rule based on sound science. Our collective agreement provided certainty for agriculture, for the Cities, for the County and for the Tribes for decades to come,”

Cladoosby continued.

In 2004, Skagit County sued Ecology department challenging the 2001 Rule. Multiparty discussions ensued as the Swinomish and other tribes, water purveyors, and the State tried to resolve the County’s complaints. Eventually, Ecology and the County settled the County’s lawsuit without consulting any of the other parties to the negotiation. In return for Skagit County agreeing to drop its lawsuit, Ecology department agreed to adopt the 2006 Rule Amendments.

The 2006 Rule amendments created 27 “reservations” of water for future out-of-stream use for a wide variety of purposes despite the fact that the senior minimum instream flow right established in 2001 is frequently unmet.

In 2008, the Tribe and the City of Anacortes (the “City”) filed a lawsuit challenging the 2006 Rule amendments. The Tribe and City contended that Ecology’s decision to create the reservations exceeded Ecology department’s authority.

Today, the Washington State Supreme Court agreed that:

“Ecology’s Amended Rule, which made 27 reservations of water for out-of-stream year-round non-interruptible beneficial uses in the Skagit River basin and which would impair minimum flows set by administrative rule, exceeded Ecology’s authority because it is inconsistent with the plain language of the statute and is inconsistent with the entire statutory scheme. The Amended Rule is invalid.”

“We would have preferred to work together to find a solution to everyone’s water needs as we did prior to the original 2001 Rule,”

observed Cladoosby,

“but, Ecology chose to go it alone with the County and we were left without any option other than calling the problems with the 2006 Rule amendments to the attention of a court. If we had not acted, the stream flows needed to support our diminishing salmon stocks would have been further impacted.”

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community is a federally recognized Indian Tribe with approximately 900 members. Swinomish is a signatory to the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, which guarantees the Tribe’s treaty fishing rights. Its 10,000 acre reservation is located 65 miles North of Seattle, Washington on Fidalgo Island and includes approximately 3,000 acres of tidelands.

Swinomish Tribe seeds beach for subsistence manila clam harvest

Swinomish biologist Julie Barber and technician Courtney Greiner survey juvenile manila clams on Lone Tree Point.

Swinomish biologist Julie Barber and technician Courtney Greiner survey juvenile manila clams on Lone Tree Point.

Source: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

The Swinomish Tribe is developing a subsistence manila clam fishery on Lone Tree Point.

“We’re using habitat we already have to increase opportunities for our tribal members to gather shellfish,” said Lorraine Loomis, fisheries manager for the tribe. “Shellfish always have been part of our traditional diet and culture.”

In 2011, shellfish biologist Julie Barber seeded five test plots totaling 1,000 square feet with good survival results. Last summer, tribal members and staff seeded an entire acre of varied beach habitat north of the lone tree that gives the beach its name.

“This beach includes areas of desirable habitat such as sand and gravel, as well as areas of mud and fine silt, which is poor manila clam habitat,” said shellfish biologist Julie Barber. “Because the tribe will not be enhancing the poor substrate with gravel, as many commercial growers do, we avoided seeding these areas. Since the 2012 seeding, we have been monitoring survival and growth throughout the seeded area to determine how survival differs along the beach by location and elevation.”

Manila clams are a staple of many tribal shellfish programs because they survive at higher elevations in the intertidal zone than native littleneck clams, and are found in a shallower depth, so they are easier to dig. They reach a harvestable size two or three years after planting.

So far, survival seems to be better on the southern part of the beach, so the tribe plans to concentrate its efforts there. Some of the clams from the 2011 test plots could be harvested as soon as next summer.

New coalition of regional leaders formed to oppose coal exports

Leadership Alliance Against Coal includes leaders from cities and tribes

 

Source: Office of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn

SEATTLE – Leaders of city governments and tribal nations across the Pacific Northwest today announced the formation of a new coalition to oppose coal trains and coal exports. The Leadership Alliance Against Coal will work together to raise awareness about the damaging economic, cultural, and health impacts of coal trains and coal exports, as well as take action to protect their communities.

“These coal trains threaten the health of our communities, the strength of our economies, and the environmental and cultural heritage we share,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “We will stand together to stop the coal trains.”

“For thousands of years Washington State tribes have fought to protect all that is important for those who call this great state home. We can no longer allow industry and business to pollute our water and land; we as leaders need to protect our treaty resources, our economies, and the human health of our citizens and neighbors,” said Brian Cladoosby, Chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

The Leadership Alliance Against Coal grew out of conversations between leaders from cities and tribal nations concerned about the impact of coal trains on their communities. Alliance members are calling for agencies to work together to explore the impacts on the health of people living near the rail tracks and the coal terminals. They urge state and federal agencies to deny permits for coal export proposals, as their proposed benefits do not outweigh the likely costs to local economies, health, natural environment, and cultural resources.

The City of Seattle conducted a study that found coal trains could add an additional two hours of gate downtime at major street crossings of the railway by 2025. Similar delays are likely in cities large and small along the proposed route of these trains

Tribes are concerned that coal trains and the proposed coal terminals would violate their treaty rights and damage their cultural heritage, as well as cause economic and health impacts.

“The economic, environmental and health issues raised by this 19th Century proposal are below us as a city and a state,” said State Representative Reuven Carlyle. “We need to focus on high quality, innovative, entrepreneurial markets and ideas that lift us up – not unhealthy, dangerous commodities that assault our global economy.”

“The risks not only to our tribe can be devastating, but also to the entire region,” said Chairman Melvin Sheldon, Jr., of the Tulalip Tribes. “We’ve made substantial retail investments that depend heavily on quality of life. Tulalip supports job creation. We are one of the largest employers in Snohomish County and contribute to economic solvency in the Northwest. However, we do not support an industry such as this one that we believe will damage our natural and cultural resources or diminish existing jobs in our region.”

“This increased rail traffic will have a significant impact on our local community by among other things increasing traffic congestion, creating a higher risk of accidents, decreasing our ability to provide effective emergency response times, impacting local commerce, and interfering with local truck freight delivery systems also affecting the local economy,” said Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring.

“The proposed coal trains pose a detriment to the health, economy, and quality of life of the people and communities I represent,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the King County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. “I stand united with neighborhood, business, environmental, tribal, and government leaders in protecting the prosperity and beauty of our state by opposing coal trains.”

“The City of Spokane cannot afford to have additional coal trains coming through that disrupt truck routes, emergency services and the health of our citizens,” said Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart. “In addition we must address climate change as elected leaders and must take action. I am proud to be part of the Leadership Alliance and look forward to working with Tribal and elected leaders across the state to represent our communities.”

“The citizens of Edmonds, like so many in our region, are committed to protecting our environment, improving our public health and safety, and building our economy. Coal trains run counter to every one of these important goals,” said Edmonds City Councilmember Strom Peterson.

“Washington State has been a national leader in creating clean-energy technologies and jobs that promote sustainable global economic development. Coal exports promote damaging and unsustainable energy programs. Shoreline stands in opposition to the proposed coal export terminals and the environmental, health and economic damage that will ultimately result,” said Shoreline Mayor Keith McGlashan.

“The City of Bainbridge Island supports economic growth that does not jeopardize Washington State’s commitment to fight the serious impacts of climate change,” said Bainbridge Island Mayor Steve Bonkowski, on behalf of the City Council. “The City urges the Governor and the Legislature to work on a comprehensive policy opposing coal export terminals in Washington State.”

“What is most concerning to me are the affects and impacts created by increased coal export put upon down-line communities like ours and we are just expected to take it,” said Sumner City Councilmember Nancy Dumas. “There is zero direct benefit for pass through communities like ours, yet our taxpayers are expected to bear the burden of expense, responsibility and liability that the increase in coal train traffic bisecting and disrupting our towns will bring.”

“On Earth Day, the city also introduced our Climate Action Plan, the city’s roadmap to be carbon neutral by 2050. Despite all our efforts to invest in energy efficient homes and an active transportation system, we will not achieve our climate goals if we allow a massive expansion of coal exports through our community,” said Seattle Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “I’m proud to stand united with cities and tribes to oppose coal exports and promote a climate friendly future.”

The following individuals are members of the Leadership Alliance Against Coal:

•           Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle

•           Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Seattle

•           Councilmember Larry Phillips, King County

•           Mayor Jon Nehring, Marysville

•           Mayor Keith McGlashan, Shoreline

•           Deputy Mayor Chris Eggen, Shoreline

•           State Representative Reuven Carlyle

•           Council President Ben Stuckart, Spokane

•           Mayor Dave Earling, Edmonds

•           Councilmember Strom Peterson, Edmonds

•           Councilmember Nancy M. Dumas, Sumner

•           Mayor Steve Bonkowski, Bainbridge Island

•           Chairman Melvin Sheldon, Jr., Tulalip Tribes

•           Chairman Brian Cladoosby, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

•           Councilmember Jay Julius, Lummi Nation