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.

War and Pollution

In addition to the fact that alternative energy does not scale to meet existing electrical demand, the components used in manufacturing solar panels are highly toxic, and become hazardous waste when these panels wear out. Meanwhile, mining and manufacture of these panels overseas is already creating environmental and social disasters for rural indigenous peoples.

Stopping fossil fuel export, as recommended by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, would help to protect the Salish Sea, and to preserve these fuels for the future energy needs of Canadians and Americans. The real challenge for the future, however, is for industrially advanced societies to use less energy.

Conservation in heating and lighting is part of that reduction, but the major part is reducing consumption of petroleum-based products, i.e. plastic, jet fuel and gasoline.

Since the U.S. military is an enormous consumer of petroleum, curbing wars of aggression to secure access to foreign minerals used in generating so-called clean energy, i.e. gold, copper, lithium and uranium used for solar and nuclear power, would make a huge dent in the US/NATO carbon footprint.

The American way of life–that consumes vast quantities of minerals for electricity and electronics, car and jet travel at the expense of the rest of the world–demands both endless war and increasing pollution. Reducing demand is not a popular position to promote, but it is the only effective one.