Alliance vs Tar Sands

The First Nations Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion–signed by 50 Indigenous nations in Vancouver and Quebec on September 22–opposes TransCanada, Kinder Morgan, and Enbridge pipeline projects in their traditional territories. As reported in the National Observer, the treaty builds on “major First Nations victories” against the Northern Gateway project and Keystone XL pipeline.

Omitted in the article, however, is any mention of the fact that the deciding factor of Obama’s rejection of Keystone XL is that it pitted Canadian Alberta Tar Sands oil against US-produced Bakken crude, made possible by his approval of fracking on millions of acres in North Dakota. The resulting glut of oil, which overwhelmed Gulf Coast storage capacity, made it possible for Obama’s advisor Warren Buffett to corner the oil-by-rail market now threatening the Pacific Coast of Northwest Washington and Southwest British Columbia.

Challenging Racism

Lummi Nation planning commissioner Sharlaine LaClair, Democrat, will take on incumbent Luanne Van Werven in the general election for the 42nd district house of representatives in the Washington State legislature. In 2013, in her role as vice-chair of the Washington Republican Party, Van Werven facilitated money-laundering from the Cherry Point coal export consortium to the Tea Party-led PACs established by KGMI radio host Kris Halterman, who in 2012 and 2013 hosted Elaine Willman from CERA–the “Ku Klux Klan of Indian Country”–on her program Saturday Morning Live three times. Willman was part of the headline at the anti-Indian conference held in Bellingham WA on April 6, 2013, and stated “Tribalism is socialism, and has no place in our country!”

Note: For more on organized racism in Whatcom County, see Netwar at Cherry Point: White Power on the Salish Sea.

A Cultural Resurgence

Nisqually Canoe Journey, held near Olympia last week, represented 27 years of the revitalized Coast Salish practice of traveling the “saltwater highway” to sing, dance, feast and renew friendships between tribes in Washington and British Columbia. As Nisqually elder Cleo Frank remarked, “We have a whole generation now that were born into it and will never know a time when the canoe journey hasn’t been here.”

Inherently Human

In 1975, the Tse-shaht tribe (part of the Nuu-chah-nulth first nation and the Wakashan language group on Vancouver Island) hosted the inaugural meeting of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. That conference led to the establishment of the Center for World Indigenous Studies in Olympia, Washington in 1979, and to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. As the ‘catalyst for the contemporary global indigenous rights movement’, the 1975 gathering–led by Chief George Manuel (founder of the Center for World Indigenous Studies)–was a historic event in the reemergence of indigenous governance, and in the development of the international regime first established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948.