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Standing With Tribal Nations Opposing Coal Exports In the Pacific Northwest

Otto Braided Hair speaks at a press convention towards coal exports. He is a traditional chief from the Northern Cheyenne and does not signify the tribal government. (Photo courtesy of Pyramid Communications)

“We collectively stand together to protect what we love; the earth is a part of who we are.”
So mentioned Reuben George, Ceremonial Sundance equal brazilian bundle weave Chief of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation at a press convention this week, throughout a historic gathering where tribes from Montana, Washington and British Columbia stood together to oppose North America’s largest coal export terminal. That’s George in the blue shirt, above, listening to Otto Braided Hair of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

I used to be honored and inspired to face with nine tribal nations from the Pacific Northwest as they came collectively in Seattle to signal a declaration urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny a permit for North America’s largest coal export terminal, the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal in the Salish Sea.

The Lummi Nation, the Lower Elwha, the Northern Cheyenne, the Quinault, the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation of British Columbia, the Tulalip, the Spokane Tribal Council, the Swinomish Tribal Nations, and the Yakama Nation are united against coal as a result of they are involved about its results on their communities, their cultures, and our shared future.

Tribal leaders have repeatedly underscored that this coal development threatens treaty-protected rights, resources, and sacred websites. At this press convention and a public gathering that followed they referred to as on the U.S. government to honor those treaty obligations and reject this coal export terminal.

The Lummi Nation has formally known as on the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers to deny all permits related to the proposed coal terminal within the tribe’s treaty-protected fishing waters. The Corps gave the challenge applicant, SSA Marine, a May 10 deadline to explain how they’d handle tribes’ issues and mitigate treaty impacts — a deadline the corporate has missed. The Corps has beforehand said they will not make their permit resolution until they obtain and consider SSA Marine’s response.

The Sierra Membership is proud and honored to stand in solidarity with these tribal nations within the struggle towards coal exports within the Pacific Northwest. Hundreds of activists throughout the area have spoken out at public hearings, written letters, submitted comments, and rallied for clean power instead of coal exports.

As domestic demand for coal dries up thanks to grassroots advocates who have stopped 183 new coal plants and received the retirement of 189 current plants, the coal trade is pushing onerous for these terminals to offer them entry to international markets. 4 of the six proposed coal export services within the Northwest have been defeated, but two proposals remain lively.

I wrote in regards to the Lummi Nation’s 2013 letter towards this Gateway Pacific Terminal coal venture. From that letter:

In growing the Lummi Nation’s position on the tasks, the Nation heeded the following principles:

1. “All the pieces is connected.” As our elders conveyed through our Xwlemi’chosen (Lummi language) that cultural and spiritual significances expressed by our ancestors for the land, water and the surroundings are all related.

2. “We should manage our sources for the seventh generation of our people.” Our unique heritage requires us to honor our past, current and future generations. Since time immemorial we have now managed assets that we are borrowing from our youngsters and grandchildren.

3. As a tribal authorities, we’ve adopted the important aim that we must preserve, promote, and protect our Schelangen (“way of life”).

The Lummi Nation issued their formal opposition to the Cherry Point project in a letter to the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers in January of this 12 months.

At this week’s occasion, Tim Ballew II, Chair of the Lummi Indian Business Council, said:
The Lummi Nation is proud to stand with different tribes who’re drawing a line within the sand to say no to growth that interferes with our treaty rights and desecrates sacred sites. The Corps has a accountability to deny the permit request and uphold our treaty.

This previous fall the Lummi’s totem pole journey traveled alongside the proposed 2,500-mile coal train route by the Pacific Northwest to dramatically exhibit the connection between the tribal nations and all cultures.

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I have been so inspired by this week’s gathering with the Lummi Nation and the leaders from other tribal nations uniting in opposition to coal exports, and I’m deeply grateful for his or her leadership. It’s also price noting that the Northern Cheyenne are combating a coal mine and rail line in Montana that may feed these proposed export terminals. And the Tsleil-Waututh are combating coal export terminal effects as well.

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