Getting to Know You

In their presentation Cultural Orientation to Coast Salish Concepts of Time and Space, Lummi elder William John and his wife Ane Berrett speak about some of the ideas and values that sustain Coast Salish peoples. The Coast Salish Speaker Series is a collaborative endeavor of local public libraries and the San Juan Islands National Monument.

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Criminal Record

The U.S. EPA rollback of water quality standards–at the behest of the oil industry–is a violation of the federal Clean Water Act as well as standards set by the Washington Department of Ecology in conjunction with Northwest Treaty Tribes. As Chinook salmon and Orca whales take center stage in the Salish Sea recovery effort, it is worth remembering the 1972 oil spill at a Cherry Point oil refinery that wiped out 92% of herring stocks, contributing to the decline of salmon whose diet depends on herring.

It is also worth recalling that BP led the effort to repeal the crude oil export ban, and conducted a media campaign in support of bomb trains. While BP Cherry Point is gearing up to fight the tribes–whose salmon and crab fisheries are in the way of the BP dream of a carbon corridor from Cape Flattery to Cherry Point–we remind readers that it was the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster that led to the largest criminal resolution in U.S. history.

Finding a Path Forward

Following their report at the UN on Canada’s non-compliance with international human rights law,¬† Wet’suwet’en First Nation is partnering with the province of British Columbia to teach all of Canada the right way. As Chief Na’Moks remarked, “We know that if we do this properly, we can affect every other Indigenous nation in the country.”

On January 7, RCMP with automatic weapons forcefully removed a tribal checkpoint to allow pipeline workers into their territory, a traumatic experience for all. As Na’Moks says, “It should never happen in Canada.”

Consumption

The call by Coast Salish tribes for an international Salish Sea environmental assessment raises the ultimate question of whether citizens of British Columbia and Washington are willing to reduce their consumption of petroleum in order to limit oil tanker traffic. While it is important to stop the export of fossil fuels through the Salish Sea, it is vital to limit the import of oil. As long as citizens mindlessly consume aviation fuel and gasoline, the pressure for more pipelines and tankers will continue.

Strength and Resiliency

As part of truth and reconciliation with the three First Nations located in Vancouver, B.C., the Vancouver School Board has commissioned three Indigenous-carved welcome posts to be erected on school district property. The tribal carvers interact with school kids, as they learn about Indigenous themes and customs represented by the figures.

The Pollution Economy

Without notice, the U.S. EPA has rescinded water quality standards designed to protect human health. Revoking standards that regulate the discharge of toxic chemicals into the Salish Sea, says Jamestown S’Klallam chair Ron Allen, is “a breach of the federal government’s trust obligation to tribes.”