Lummi Nation was recognized by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for its emergency response to the collapsed Cooke Aquaculture net-pen off Cypress Island. Jay Julius, chairman of Lummi Nation, noted, “To protect our treaty-fishing areas from invasive Atlantic salmon is just part of our commitment to preserving our way of life.”


Treaties Are Dead

While American Indian institutions stick with strategies developed under the Obama administration, the Trump administration is mobilizing its forces to annihilate tribal governments, especially those in the way of fossil fuel extraction from tribal lands. As my colleague Rudolph Ryser notes, treaties and courts are no longer weapons tribes can use to defend themselves from corporations.
In my post on tribal sovereignty, tribes are on the verge of being terminated in the United States. As such, there will be no more ‘treaty rights’ victories like the one at Cherry Point.

No Tribes No Salmon

In 2011, Northwest Treaty Tribes launched the Treaty Rights at Risk initiative, outlining the issues and offering solutions for the protection of tribal treaty rights and the recovery of salmon habitat in western Washington state. Because salmon habitat is being destroyed faster than it can be restored, salmon continue to decline, along with tribal cultures and treaty rights.  They are asking the federal government to lead the salmon recovery effort, as part of its trust responsibility to honor its treaties with the tribes.

In 2014, President Obama authorized fracking for oil on 23 million acres of federal land, which led to bomb trains shipping North Dakota Bakken Shale crude to Anacortes and Cherry Point refineries in Northwest Washington. In 2015, Congress lifted the oil export ban, spurring interest in shipping Alberta Tar Sands crude to China from Cherry Point.

In 2017, President Trump issued a Presidential Statement signaling his belief that American Indian tribes should be terminated, bringing four decades of tribal self-determination to a close. In 2018, extinguishing tribal sovereignty is foremost on the White House agenda. If Congress concurs, Indian tribes and salmon will be extinct.

Rigged Game

While Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau was publicly going through the motions of “consulting” First Nations on the Kinder Morgan pipeline fiasco, high level officials were privately instructing staff to find a way to justify approval by his cabinet. Ignoring a 150 -page report from Tsleil Waututh First Nation on the devastating impacts of Tar Sands shipping through the Salish Sea, government officials–after meeting with Kinder Morgan lobbyists–expedited review of the contentious project. The matter is now being reviewed by the Federal Court of Appeal.

Mission Impossible

Even as the Quebec Canadian relations minister warns the Canadian Prime Minister that his heavy-handed approach in British Columbia–over the Kinder Morgan Tar Sands pipeline–could put federalism in peril, Trudeau forges ahead on his Big Oil mission. Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, says Trudeau has made a “big mistake” not inviting First Nations rights and title holders to the decision-making table.