Bomb Trains

With the lifting of the U.S. crude oil export ban in December 2015, the fracked oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota is looking for new export terminals that can handle the skyrocketing increase in oil trains carrying this volatile crude. With the growing movement to stop new oil pipelines — which are much safer for transporting oil than trains — communities that are geographically exposed to the danger of derailing and exploding ‘bomb trains’ are now preparing emergency plans for the half-mile evacuation zone established by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Omitted from the propaganda emanating from environmental organizations advocating against new pipelines, however, is any mention of how to stop the explosive growth in ‘bomb train’ traffic without them. Apparently, they don’t want either, but that would require reestablishing the export ban Congress just lifted, which is an unlikely scenario. The other thing “no pipelines” advocates, i.e. 350 — which is ironically funded by ‘bomb train’ magnate Warren Buffett (owner of BNSF Railway) via TIDES — fail to address, is consumer demand for petroleum products, i.e. gasoline, aviation fuel, and plastic.

As noted in the April 25 issue of Chicago Magazine, Bomb Trains are rolling through densely-populated areas–near homes, schools and hospitals. As noted in the Wall Street Journal, a single tank car of Bakken crude carries the energy equivalent of two million sticks of dynamite. This fact alone has emergency preparedness authorities and firefighters across the country horrified. Even if American citizens are successful in pressuring Congress to reestablish the crude oil export ban, they will still need to address the transport method of oil domestically–the oil that they themselves consume.


Ecology Rebuked by Court of Appeals

Washington State Department of Ecology and the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board were rebuked by the Washington State Court of Appeals for permitting the Cherry Point oil refineries and aluminum smelter to discharge toxic pollutants into the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve, in direct violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

White Power on the Salish Sea

White Power on the Salish Sea

The Fossil Fuel Export War

By Jay Taber



In Drumming Up Resentment: The Anti-Indian Movement in Montana, a special report published by Montana Human Rights Network in 2000, author Ken Toole made the following remarks:

“The context in which most people place words like racism, prejudice, and discrimination is the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In that context, an oppressed minority, African Americans, sought inclusion, a piece of the pie, equal opportunity and integration.


The struggle for civil rights in Indian country is different. It rests more on sovereignty and autonomy than on inclusion and integration. The legal framework created by the civil rights activists of the 1950s and 1960s sought to secure equal treatment within existing institutions and law. Indian rights activists, by and large, seek recognition of their right to develop their own law. Basically, they seek recognition of a right to self-determination. This difference is confusing and gives the anti-Indian movement an advantage in the rhetorical arena.


Taken at face value, the anti-Indian movement is a systematic effort to deny legally established rights to a group of people who are identified on the basis of their shared culture, history, religion and tradition. That makes it racist by definition.”

Writing further, Mr. Toole examined the organizational infrastructure of the Anti-Indian Movement:

“Over the last thirty years, tribal governments have become more sophisticated about asserting themselves through treaty rights. This evolution has often created controversy. Those who have opposed tribes, fearing Indian governance, have coalesced themselves into the anti-Indian movement. Groups like the Interstate Congress for Equal Rights and Responsibilities (ICERR), Totally Equal Americans (TEA), and the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA) have served as national umbrella organizations for groups that have grown out of local and state controversies. These national groups have focused on federal policy by lobbying in Congress and litigating in the federal courts. However, the power and effectiveness of these national groups is linked to the local anti-Indian groups.


In addition to “vertical integration” from local to state to national organizations, the anti-Indian movement also developed “horizontal integration,” or ally relationships with groups and activists in other political and social movements. The anti-Indian movement is allied with the anti-environmental “wise use movement.” There is extensive cooperation between anti-Indian groups like CERA and wise use groups like the Alliance for America. Loose affiliation between anti-Indian groups and the Religious Right is also evident primarily in the electoral arena and state legislature. Finally, despite their best efforts, anti-Indian activists often stumble into the overt white supremacist movement. It is not a surprising stumble since both movements have racist ideas at the core.”

In the conclusion of Drumming Up Resentment, Ken Toole remarked that the public education system is doing a woefully inadequate job of providing information to students on Indian issues. The result, he says, is that citizens are increasingly ignorant about treaty rights and tribal sovereignty. This, he warns, makes them far more vulnerable to the politics of resentment offered up by the Anti-Indian Movement.


Givers and Takers

On April 6, 2013, I received a request from the editor of the Cascadia Weekly for background on Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA), which had held an anti-Indian conference earlier that day in Bellingham, Washington. On April 10, my article Anti-Indian Conference was published at IC Magazine.

On April 17, the Cascadia Weekly editor published a column titled A history of violence. On page 4 of the April 17 Earth Day issue of Cascadia Weekly, he published my letter to the editor, “Givers and Takers”, which connected the organized racism promoted by CERA to propaganda by the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) coal export developers. Responding to my letter, Craig Cole, the PR spokesman for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal — located next to the Lummi Indian reservation — phoned the editor expressing his displeasure with my op-ed.

On April 26, 2013, the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR) in Seattle published a special report by Charles Tanner Jr titled “Take These Tribes Down” The Anti-Indian Movement Comes To Washington State.

On May 13, 2013, it came to my attention that Skip Richards – one of the two organizers of the April 6, 2013 CERA conference, and a strategist of anti-Indian campaigns in the 1990s — was scheduled to speak at a May 24 luncheon for the Republican Women of Whatcom County, at the Bellingham Golf and Country Club.


After sending my article to the Whatcom League of Women Voters, with a note about the likelihood of Richards leading a hate campaign against tribal sovereignty by appealing to the Tea Party wing of the GOP, I informed my Public Good colleagues that Richards and other entrepreneurial merchants of fear were apparently “hovering around the treaty rights/water rights/GPT conflicts probing for an opportunity to recreate the climate of fear that twenty years ago allowed them to capture the Whatcom County Council”. Additionally, I noted that “The PACs and non-profits the property rights network established back then for political power later spawned the anti-Indian, militia organizing”.


Horizontal Integration

In August 2013, Whatcom Watch monthly included a supplement by Jewell Praying Wolf James of the Lummi Indian Tribe titled The Search for Integrity in the Conflict over Cherry Point as a Coal Export Terminal. In the October-November 2013 issue of Whatcom Watch, Sandra Robson’s article How Property Rights Can Become Property Wrongs was the cover story. In the article, Robson recounts the violent history of property rights groups in Whatcom county, and notes that the co-organizer of the April 6 CERA conference was Tom Williams, a Minuteman militia member, and CERA board member. Paul de Armond’s 2005 Public Good Project report Racist Origins of Border Militias sheds light on what these white supremacists are all about.

On October 9, 2013, the Whatcom Tea Party sponsored a Gateway Pacific Terminal Debate at the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County (BIAWC). As reported by Paul de Armond in the 1995 Public Good Project special report Wise Use in Northern Puget Sound, the BIAWC had been an active supporter of Wise Use terrorism against environmentalists and Native Americans in 14 Washington counties, including Whatcom, where Skip Richards was a paid BIAWC agent provocateur.

Also on October 9, 2013, Cascadia Weekly ran an editorial titled Polar Chill, noting the editor is “dismayed to see coal export interests laundering large amounts of campaign contributions” suggesting that “the early promise of coal export interests to be good corporate citizens was a lie”. The editorial is worth reading in its entirety.


The Politics of Resentment

On October 16, 2013, I became aware of a new PAC called SaveWhatcom, registered by KGMI radio host Kris Halterman and Lorraine Newman. Halterman is noted in my Anti-Indian Conference article at IC Magazine, having interviewed CERA celebrity Elaine Willman at the April 6, 2013 CERA gathering. Halterman had Willman on her March 30, 2013 show Saturday Morning Live, saying the April 6 conference would teach local officials and citizens how to take on tribal governments. On Halterman’s November 3, 2012 show, Willman called for an end to tribal sovereignty, stating, “Tribalism is socialism, and has no place in our country!”

In August and September, 2013 — as I soon learned — the Gateway Pacific Terminal consortium had funneled $149,000 into the SaveWhatcom and WhatcomFirst PACs, run by KGMI radio hosts Kris Halterman and Dick Donohue—both of whom I had noted in my May 5, 2013 IC Magazine article, White Power on the Salish Sea: The Wall Street/Tea Party Convergence. In this article, I noted the following about Donohue and Halterman:


On March 30, 2013, Donohue interviewed CERA board member and Minuteman Tom Williams, who promoted the untrue idea that Indians have citizenship privileges without paying taxes, and noted that CERA was currently mounting a national offensive to terminate tribal sovereignty. On April 6, Donohue and Halterman interviewed Willman and Phillip Brendale live from the Anti-Indian Conference, who declared that the purpose of the regional gathering was to “Take these Tribes Down.”

On November 3, 2013, Kris Halterman posted a Breaking News story on her KGMI blog titled Whatcom County Council Appeals GMHB Ruling on Rural Element: a decision to affect Your Water Rights. In Halterman’s story, she notes that on the previous day’s KGMI show Radio Real Estate, host Mike Kent invited experts to talk about Whatcom County’s water rights, including Skip Richards.

On November 21, 2013, in an article at the Seattle Times titled On Behalf of North Dakota and Montana, McKenna calls Washington coal study unconstitutional, former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna wrote a letter to Washington State that questioned the constitutionality of Washington’s Department of Ecology review of the proposed coal-export terminal at Cherry Point. In his unsuccessful 2012 bid for governor against Jay Inslee, McKenna made his support for coal-export terminals a major issue.

In Trampling on the Treaties: Rob McKenna and the Politics of Anti-Indianism, a 2012 report by Chuck Tanner and Leah Henry-Tanner, the authors examined Washington gubernatorial candidate McKenna via his career as a public official opposed to treaty rights, as well as his working relationship with Anti-Indian activists and organizations. As the Tanners note:

“McKenna’s Anti-Indian policies and ideas, and his willingness to ally his public office with opponents of tribal rights, should raise a large red flag for all people in Washington state who support respectful relations with Indian Nations.”

The Tanners observed that as Washington Attorney General, McKenna’s legal briefs “provide a political framework for backlash against Indian Nations”…His actions as Attorney General, “point to a pattern of disrespect for the basic rights of indigenous nations”…When McKenna perceives a state interest at issue, “he will oppose the fundamental rights of Indian Nations and ally with anti-Indian activists to achieve his goals”.


Educating the Public

In a November 24, 2013 story at EarthFix titled Documents Reveal Coal Exporter Disturbed Native American Archeological Site at Cherry Point, the first installment of a two-part series, KUOW reporter Ashley Ahearn wrote the following about Gateway Pacific Terminal parent company Pacific International Terminals:

Three summers ago the company that wants to build the largest coal export terminal in North America failed to obtain the environmental permits it needed before bulldozing more than four miles of roads and clearing more than nine acres of land, including some wetlands.


Pacific International Terminals also failed to meet a requirement to consult first with local Native American tribes, the Lummi and Nooksack tribes, about the potential archaeological impacts of the work. Sidestepping tribal consultation meant avoiding potential delays and roadblocks for the project’s development.


It also led to the disturbance of a site from which 3,000-year-old human remains had previously been removed — and where archeologists and tribal members suspect more are buried.


Pacific International Terminals and its parent corporation, SSA Marine, subsequently settled for $1.6 million for violations under the Clean Water Act.


According to company documents obtained by EarthFix after the lawsuit made them public, Pacific International Terminals drilled 37 boreholes throughout the site, ranging from 15 feet to 130 feet in depth, without following procedures required by the Army Corps of Engineers under the National Historic Preservation Act.

On November 26, 2013, IC Magazine published my editorial Cherry Point Ownership, in which I noted that the August 2013 Whatcom Watch insert by Jewell Praying Wolf James revealed that the Lummi people did not sign away Cherry Point in the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot. As Mr. James wrote, Cherry Point was part of the original Lummi Reservation, not part of the lands ceded under duress to the U.S. Government. Only in 1872 was Cherry Point illegally removed from the Lummi Reservation by Presidential Executive Order, in order for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to unlawfully sell the property to white squatters. As one of the most important ancient Lummi village sites, Cherry Point ownership, in 2013, had been in dispute for 141 years.

In January 2014, Whatcom Watch published What Would Corporations Do? Native American Rights and the Gateway Pacific Terminal, Sandra Robson’s detailed account of money-laundering by the coal export consortium into the hands of CERA-supporting, Tea Party-led PACs. The footnotes of her cover story include a link to my IC Magazine article White Power on the Salish Sea: The Wall Street/Tea Party Convergence, as well as the referenced April 26, 2013 IREHR report “Take These Tribes Down” by Charles Tanner Jr.

On January 15, 2014, Indian Country Today published an article by Winona LaDuke titled Crow and Lummi, Dirty Coal & Clean Fishing, in which she notes that Cherry Point, home of the ancient Lummi village of XweChiexen, was the first site in Washington State to be listed on the Washington Heritage Register. As a 3,500-year-old site, she said, “It is sacred to the Lummi.”

On page 12 of the January 15, 2014 issue of Cascadia Weekly, in an article titled Draw the Line by Tim Johnson, he noted that the waters at Cherry Point are home to one of the best crab fisheries along the coast, and that this fishery sustains many tribal families. In the article, he quotes Jeremiah “Jay” Julius, secretary of the Lummi Nation Governing Council, a fisherman and crabber descended from tribesmen who have fished the waters off Cherry Point for centuries. Featured in a KCTS documentary and related PBS News Hour piece about the proposed Northwest coal terminals, Julius stated, “The sacred must be protected.”


A Free Press

On February 5, 2014, Gateway Pacific Terminal spokesman Craig Cole threatened Whatcom Watch with a SLAPP suit, which I covered for IC magazine in my February 8 article Gateway Pacific Terminal Consultant Threatens Journalists. In the four page letter sent to Whatcom Watch, Cole accused Robson and myself of libel, threatening that Robson and Whatcom Watch are “put on notice”.

On February 17, 2014, in an Indian Country Today article titled Coast Salish Nations Unite to Protect Salish Sea, the Lummi, Swinomish, Suquamish and Tulalip tribes of Washington joined the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam Nations in British Columbia in opposing Kinder Morgan’s proposed TransMountain pipeline and other energy-expansion and export projects that “pose a threat to the environmental integrity of our sacred homelands and waters, our treaty and aboriginal rights, and our cultures and life ways.” In December 2013, Kinder Morgan, the third largest energy producer in North America, filed an application with the National Energy Board of Canada (NEB) to build a new pipeline to transport crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands to Vancouver, British Columbia, that if approved, would result in a 200% increase in oil tanker traffic through the Salish Sea. On February 11, 2014, these tribes and nations collectively filed for official intervener status with the NEB.

On February 25, 2014, Northwest Citizen (NWC) posted Relevant Documents to Libel Threat, including Craig Cole’s letter threatening a libel lawsuit against Whatcom Watch (WW), as well as a link to my article at IC Magazine, noting that “It is interesting that Cole has not threatened to sue Taber or Taber’s publisher.” NWC editor John Servais observes it is legitimate for WW to seek connections between the anti-Indian groups and the corporations seeking permits to build the coal terminal, saying, “It is called journalism and the exercise of a free press.”


A Terrible Insult

On March 10, 2014, writing at the SaveWhatcom blog, Tea Party leader and KGMI radio host Kris Halterman defended Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA), as well as Craig Cole’s threat against Whatcom Watch. On March 12, 2014, in an editorial titled Tone Deaf, Cascadia Weekly excoriated Pacific International Terminals for its unpermitted destruction of the ancestral burial grounds of the Lummi Nation at Cherry Point, saying it “is a terrible insult to the Lummi people.”

On March 28, 2014, Indian Country Today published a feature story titled Anti-Indian CERA Doesn’t Like the Law of the Land, or Us, Apparently, by Terri Hansen, in which CERA is described as “The Ku Klux Klan of Indian Country.” On April 2, 2014, federal Indian law attorney Dave Lundgren wrote in his Indian Country Today op-ed Expose Hate Groups Like CERA that, “They disguise their fear and hatred with bogus legal arguments designed to rile up local resentment.”

On June 27, 2014, the Bellingham Herald article Craig Cole’s legal threat against Whatcom Watch ‘resolved’ claimed the SLAPP suit issue had been amicably resolved, saying “What bothered Cole more than Robson’s piece was a follow up by blogger Jay Taber that contorted Robson’s hypothetical scenario into flat-out reality.” Had the reporter Ralph Schwartz bothered to closely read Sandra Robson’s extensively-sourced article and mine, he would have discovered that my accusation of Cole promoting racism was based on documented facts.

On June 30, 2014, my article Capitalizing on Fear at IC Magazine explained how Gateway Pacific Terminal funding enabled Tea Party-led PACs and KGMI radio to drum up resentment against Lummi Nation. On December 23, 2014, in my IC Magazine post White Power vs Northwest Indians, I included two posters from Public Good Project—Gateway Pacific Terminal Hall of Shame, and White Power on the Salish Sea.



On July 27, 2015, my article Crowing Jesus: Four Square Gospel vs A Sacred Trust at IC Magazine noted that in a July 21 article at the Los Angeles Times, Crow Tribe Chairman Darrin Old Coyote called Lummi Nation leaders “ignorant” pawns of Seattle environmental groups. A supplier of coal, the Crow are in bed with Gateway Pacific Terminal. As a Pentecostal Christian tribe, the Crow are challenging Lummi Nation’s “sacred trust” to protect the Salish Sea—a holy mandate that Earth Ministry, Resources, Unitarian Universalists, and Sierra Club support.

On March 12, 2016, Northwest Citizen named Sandra Robson the Paul deArmond Citizen Journalist of the year, saying, “If there were a Pulitzer Prize for citizen journalism, Sandra Robson would win it.”

Jay Thomas Taber is a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal and communications director at Public Good Project. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.

Grinding Grist

In case you were wondering why Grist magazine, based in Seattle, is pro-GMO and pro-Nukes (as is Bill Gates),  following the money is probably a good place to start. Funders of Grist include Tides Foundation (an oil industry money laundry), Ford Foundation (a partner of the World Bank in ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples worldwide), and the Rockefeller Brothers (inheritors of the Standard Oil fortune).

Enough said.

Prepared to Lead

Transforming the Values

During the first two weeks of December 2008, delegates from Indigenous nations around the world gathered in Poznan, Poland to share their traditional knowledge with the United Nations and its member states meeting there for climate change talks. One year prior to this convergence to discuss a new vision for the survival of humankind, the UN General Assembly extended the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, when it adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (13 September 2007); at Poznan, the tribal peoples challenged the UN to make that rhetoric reality.


If the one-third of humanity the limited number of Indigenous peoples’ delegations represented now had the recognized right to exist and flourish under international law, then their voices had to be heard, their delegations welcomed, their gifts acknowledged by states’ government delegates to the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change. They were not.


In the closing statement of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum presented to the UN conference, the delegations observed that the denial of full and effective participation in the UN discussion is an affront to the rights granted them in 2007. They went on to say that the framework itself undermines their rights, and demanded the immediate suspension of carbon market schemes and other initiatives that, “commodify the atmosphere, promote privatization, and concentrate resources in the hands of a few.” What we must do, they noted, is to “transform the values of commerce and consumerism to those of conservation, cooperation, and sharing.”


Reciprocity by the UN and its member states would entail recognizing the great gift they received from the conservation practiced by First Nations and the Fourth World. Like it or not, these invisible people –collectively described as Indigenous peoples — are still here.


Presenting a New Vision        


When modern states first initiated plans for exterminating the conservation cultures of the Fourth World (replacing them with a system of states), religious fundamentalism was the motivating belief of their dominant societies. Intertwined with that belief was an unquestioning faith in market economics. Over time, a rift developed between controlling society’s “haves” and “have nots” over these doctrines, but was not fundamentally challenged until the environmental movement brought into question the basic assumptions of market theology. Today, that rift has widened with the awareness generated by the anti-globalization movement, made famous in Chiapas, Mexico when the Mayan Day Keepers stepped from a protective cave and pronounced the world economy in jeopardy, and in Seattle, United States of America, when Indigenous leaders challenged the underlying premise of the World Trade Organization.


The 2008 showdown between the UN and the Indigenous Peoples Movement in Poznan, Poland is a classic contest between faith–based fundamentalism and scientific observation. With faith in market doctrine plummeting worldwide, the proven track record of First Nations in conservation economics places Indigenous peoples in the role of teachers to the disillusioned former members of the market cult. Still in denial, market–based institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are struggling to maintain dominance by force, using the myriad UN Funds, Programmes, and Agencies they are a part of to implement their brutal schemes.


Illustrating the Indigenous precept that all things are connected, the convergence of the Indigenous movement with the environmental and pro-democracy movements signals an end to the wasteful way of life promoted by UN member states. How this plays out in terms of new relationships between such things as capital and ownership remains to be seen, but the likelihood of returning to business as usual becomes ever more remote as our collective consciousness surpasses market mania in presenting a new vision for the future of humankind.


Designing the Tools


The Indigenous Peoples Movement has been 500 years in the making, and it did not happen accidentally. The Indigenous peoples’ reemergence — demanding that the human rights made manifest in the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be respected by all nation-states — is the result of a long preparation. That preparation required recovery from disease and genocide, as well as instruction in self-governance in order to pursue self-determination in the modern world–and that wasn’t easy.


Designing the tools needed to free themselves from states, global markets, and financial institutions took a lot of thought and hard work. Research and consultation had to be done. Education had to be conducted by and for Indigenous peoples themselves. Networks of Indigenous scholars had to be built and connected with Indigenous leaders and activists. Alliances had to be formed.


Developing Strategies


Standing on the shoulders of those who endured the era of official extermination of Indigenous peoples by forces in internationally recognized states, leaders of the Indigenous resurgence — begun under the rubric of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights – in 1979 brought together the Indigenous leadership of the globe as the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. The successor to that body, the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS), is now the premier Indigenous think-tank and archival repository in the world.


For thirty years, CWIS has worked in collaboration with Indigenous institutions like the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in the US, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in Canada, the Nordic Sami Council in Scandinavia, and the National Aboriginal Council in Australia, developing the intellectual strength and historical knowledge to move forward on human rights initiatives in restoration of traditional knowledge, governance, trade, health and medicine, and environmental restoration. Indeed, past presidents Chief George Manuel and Joe DeLaCruz, of AFN and NCAI respectively, were instrumental in establishing the Center for World Indigenous Studies.


Today, these initiatives influence events on all continents in the form of consultation on analysis and strategy for achieving accords essential to Indigenous peoples’ survival (i.e. the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), developing strategies for restoring control over territories, formulating strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change, as well as establishing new institutions for resolving conflicts. During the three decades of its existence, CWIS has helped prepare the Indigenous leaders of tomorrow by making sure they understand the dynamics of the present and lessons of the past. Carrying on that vision in the digital age is a challenge and opportunity the Center is committed to engaging.


Constructing the Infrastructure


In the 1950s, when Chief George Manuel began organizing First Nations in Canada, the official policy of the two federal governments above and below the forty-ninth parallel was to exterminate Indigenous peoples as independent political entities. Assimilation programs designed to annihilate the Indigenous cultures was actually designated “termination” by the U.S. Congress.


As the final solution of the ethnic cleansing enterprise begun by European colonies in North America, the extinguishing of tribal cultures by the governments of Canada and the United States was viewed by the Indian tribes as an act of war. How Chief Manuel and his associates in the US fought this war over the half century since then is the subject of a cinematic documentary project proposed by CWIS.


Chief George Manuel and Joe DeLaCruz were mill workers, one in British Columbia and the other in Washington State. As tribal leaders in the 1960s, they embarked on a journey that would take them to all corners of the globe, igniting a resurgence of Indigenous peoples leading to the formation of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples in 1979, and its successor, the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS), in 1984. The foundation laid by Manuel, DeLaCruz, and CWIS chair, Rudolph C. Ryser, led to the creation of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982, and the establishment of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples in 2002.


In 2007, CWIS associates witnessed the passage of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Only four countries – Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States – voted against the declaration. In December 2008, a new generation of Indigenous leaders journeyed to Poznan, Poland to join in the UN climate change talks, and were rebuffed.


Rudolph C. Ryser — chief advisor to the late Assembly of First Nations Chief George Manuel and National Congress of American Indians President Joe DeLaCruz – attended the World Indigenous Peoples’ Forum in Poznan. Along with Indigenous Environmental Network director Tom Goldtooth and others — including Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp – Dr. Ryser composed a statement on behalf of the gathering to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. That statement, as noted, demanded the immediate suspension of carbon market schemes and other commercial initiatives that undermine Indigenous peoples’ human rights by commodifying the atmosphere, promoting privatization, and concentrating resources in the hands of oligarchs and transnational corporations.


During the thirty years that Chief Manuel, Joe DeLaCruz, and Rudolph Ryser labored together, they and their global network of associates advised Indigenous scholars, activists and leaders working on self-governance, economic development, resource protection, and educational opportunity on all continents–busy constructing the infrastructure for their peoples’ survival. Pursued with a perseverance remarkable for its resourcefulness, the Indigenous Peoples Movement has rapidly advanced from a mode of endurance to one of resilience. The history and future of this struggle for equality, as seen through the eyes of Indigenous intellectuals and leaders, is a dramatic journey to freedom for the world’s First Nations and Indigenous peoples, a story sure to inspire and provoke soul-searching thoughts among all humankind.


Evolving Consciousness


As invisible peoples, the one-third of humanity comprising Indigenous societies has viewed the development by colonial societies and successor states as not only anathema to their most fundamental values, but also as suicidal for all humankind. With the advent of global economic and environmental collapse, this Fourth World point of view has now been validated.


The Indigenous Peoples Movement involves a transformation of consciousness; evolution, not revolution. The ideas, values, and spirit of the ancient seed of humanity are characterized by the law of generosity. Much has been lost in the colonial experiment, and we all have suffered from the associated traumas. The original peoples are ready, willing, and able to show the world a better way; indeed, they are prepared to lead.


Coming Together


When the World Council of Indigenous Peoples held its inaugural meeting during October 1975 in Port Alberni, British Columbia (on Vancouver Island), it was laying the groundwork for international Indigenous bodies that we see today, such as the Coast Salish Gathering of Coast Salish Tribes and Nations that are challenging the governments of the United States and Canada to uphold their human rights as Indigenous peoples to protect the environmental integrity of their sacred homelands and waters, treaty and aboriginal rights, cultures and life ways from annihilation by the fossil fuel industry.


In so doing, they are provoking the dominant consumer societies of the First World to make their rhetoric about climate justice a reality as well. While it’s easy to blame the fossil fuel industry for cancerous pollution and catastrophic climate change, the mindless consumption of fossil fuels, petrochemicals, and petroleum-based plastic continues to demand that they produce ever greater volumes of these carcinogenic products that threaten all life on earth.


In the end, it is our choice, whether we want to go on living the industrial life style that pollutes our world, or make the changes necessary to end the insanity of industrialized suicide.

Travels with Kenny

In July 1974, the year U. S. District Court Judge George Boldt ruled on the American Indian treaty fishing rights case United States v. Washington – commonly known as the Boldt Decision – I was a cannery tender captain, buying salmon for Port Chatham Packing Company of Seattle, owned at the time by a pair of Norwegian brothers named Norman and Erling Nielsen. Port Chatham smoked salmon was known worldwide for its exceptional quality, and counted gourmet chef Julia Child among its steady customers.

The salmon I procured for Port Chatham came largely from Lummi (a.k.a. Lhaq ‘temish) and Samish Indians, who caught the Chinook salmon so prized by connoisseurs of the Nielsen’s Norwegian-style BALLARD LOX. Sometimes, when seas were rough off Cherry Point where they fished, I took my vessel into the Sandy Point Marina and tied up to a friend’s father’s private dock. The Marina is part of the Lummi Indian Reservation, so this was handy for all involved.

The problem, as I soon discovered, was that I was obligated to buy a license and pay a tax to the Lummi Tribe, which would make me less competitive in the prices I could offer to the fishermen. Operating in violation of this regulation is how I came to meet Ken Cooper, at the time a Lummi Nation fisheries patrol officer. Built like a Grizzly Bear, Ken did not need to persuade me that I would be wise to come along peacefully, to be heard in Lummi Tribal Court.

In July 1993, when I was managing litigation for the Watershed Defense Fund, our attorney and I appeared before the Washington State Shorelines Hearings Board in Olympia, and called on Lummi Nation water resources staff person Harriet Beale to testify about her knowledge of water quality issues. Later that summer, I went on vacation to the coastal village of La Push, located on the Quileute Indian Reservation. Walking around the village, I saw a beautiful carved canoe, and asked the owner if I could take a photo.

As he proudly posed next to it for a photo-op, I mentioned I knew a Lummi Indian by the name of Ken Cooper, who was from just down the coast at the Hoh Indian Reservation. Stunned by my comment, he said that Ken did not grow up at Hoh River, but grew up right next door, pointing at the small house just yards away. Learning of this, I sent the photo to the Lummi water resources office, where Ms. Beale worked alongside Ken Cooper, whom I received a call from a few days later.

When I answered the phone, Ken, who likely did not remember our encounter twenty years earlier, thanked me for the photo of his childhood friend — whom he had not seen in many years — and proceeded to tell me stories about living at La Push. Before he hung up, Ken said that the experience of receiving this photo out-of-the-blue was so emotional, that he had held his ceremonial drum while we talked.

In September 1995, U.S. Senator Slade Gorton – the former Washington Attorney General who lost the Boldt Decision case – went on a rampage of vengeance against Lummi Nation, threatening to drastically cut the federal funding they were entitled to by the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot, in retaliation for Lummi Nation subjecting white Fee Land Owners on the reservation to water quality rules enacted by the Lummi Indian Governing Council. As special advisor to Washington Environmental Council president Sherilyn Wells, I observed the Lummi round dance in front of the Whatcom County Courthouse where Mrs. Wells spoke (alongside Lummi spiritual leader Ken Cooper), in denouncing Senator Gorton.

Attending the round dance — accompanied by Lummi Tribal drummers – was Lummi Nation staff attorney Shirley Leckman, and my Public Good Project associate, Paul de Armond. As I walked up the block to tell Paul and Shirley that I had just returned from the printer with copies of Paul’s report on anti-Indian developments in the region, I could hear Ken Cooper’s booming voice singing a holy song in the Lhaq ‘temish language.

On May 19, 2001 – after flying in from San Francisco, to where I had moved in 1998 — I attended the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force awards banquet, at which Kurt Russo of the Lummi Nation Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office presented an award to Paul for “putting his life on the line” contributing to the apprehension of people engaged in intimidation of environmental advocates, Indian treaty proponents, and human rights activists. Joining Paul in receiving awards were my friend Linda Lyman, and posthumously, Ken Cooper.

In June 2005, I published a collection of my short stories titled Life as Festival, in which I included the stories Ken Cooper had told me in 1993, that I named Eye-to-Eye. In my story, I used the name ‘Benny’ instead of Kenny.

In October 2011, early one Sunday morning, I walked for tea and scones at the Fort Mason café and bookstore, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Browsing through the used books section, I spotted an intriguing title—The Heart of the Sky: Travels Among the Maya, by Peter Canby. Thinking that my friend Nina — who had adopted a Guatemalan Maya daughter while living and teaching in Oaxaca — might enjoy it, I purchased it and returned home. Enjoying the book, I nearly read it straight through, until I came to page 311, where to my utter surprise, I read the following passage:

Later, back in San Cristobal, I spoke with a member of the delegation of Northwest Indians that had been visiting Lacanja. The man, a six-foot-five-inch, 250-pound Lummi Indian from Washington State named Cha-das-skidum, or Ken Cooper in English, was concerned that the Lacandons were losing their forest and that this would affect their spiritual well-being.

“When they’re young”, he said, “all indigenous people go into the forest and stay there until the forest speaks to them, until they become part of it. When that happens, the forest shows them how to get out. It’s like you guys. You didn’t get out of the forest because you were tough or smart. You got out because the forest was ready to let you go.”

On April 17, 2013 — having received notice of an April 6 anti-Indian conference, held near the Lummi Indian Reservation – the Cascadia Weekly published my letter to the editor titled ‘Givers and Takers’ on page 4 of the Earth Day issue. According to Paul de Armond’s sister Claire, it was the last thing Paul read before passing away on April 20, and the last time he smiled. In the April 23 issue, Cascadia Weekly’s editor wrote a eulogy to Paul titled ‘A Giant Passes Through’.

On May 3, 2013, I received an email from a woman named Sandra Robson, who was involved in the fight against the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) at Cherry Point, a coal-export development opposed by Lummi Nation. Sandra was working closely with Sierra Club, as well as ReSources, a non-profit that successfully sued SSA Marine/Pacific International Terminals (parent of GPT) for violating the Clean Water Act, by illegally bulldozing an ancient Lummi burial ground and village site at Cherry Point.

On March 11, 2014, I got an email from a lady named Deborah Cruz, a Unitarian Universalist involved with Lummi Nation, who had read my May 5, 2013 article titled White Power on the Salish Sea: The Wall Street/Tea Party Convergence, published at IC Magazine. My article had been quoted in a January 2014 cover story by Sandra Robson at Whatcom Watch titled What Would Corporations Do? Native American Rights and the Gateway Pacific Terminal, with a footnote link that was forwarded to Ms. Cruz by Crina Hoyer at ReSources.

On March 12, 2016, Northwest Citizen presented Sandra Robson the Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism award. On April 1, 2016, Wrong Kind of Green published my special report titled Netwar at Cherry Point: White Power on the Salish Sea, a story about the pursuit of truth, democratic renewal, and the holy spirit.

In the concluding paragraph of my 2005 story Eye-to-Eye, I wrote the following about Ken Cooper:

A few years back, when Benny returned to the other world to share stories with his ancestors, I remembered these stories he told me over the phone one morning, while holding his drum and the photo I’d sent him of the new canoe carved by his childhood friend at La Push. He was thinking of maybe going back for a visit during the great gathering of tribal ocean paddlers from Canada and Washington that I’d told him I’d seen advertised while camping out there on vacation.

I don’t know if he made it back, but I like to think that he’s happy more people are starting to appreciate the values of cooperation, reciprocity, and sharing he grew up with. It would make him feel good.