On May 16, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) unanimously adopted a resolution entitled Oppose the Proposals for the Transportation and Export of Fossil Fuels in the Pacific Northwest. In this resolution, the 57 ATNI Tribes of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, southeast Alaska, Northern California, Nevada and Western Montana voiced, “unified opposition to investors such as Goldman Sachs, as well as the transporters and exporters of fossil fuel energy, who are proposing projects in the ancestral territories of ATNI Tribes.”
From the Powder River Basin of the Northern Cheyenne, through the Columbia River to the Salish Sea, ATNI Tribes believe it their sacred duty to protect their ancestral territories and natural resources. As such, the ATNI resolution specifically calls out support for protection of the Lummi Nation’s treaty-protected fishing economy and sacred places that would be affected by the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) at Cherry Point, Washington. According to Lummi Nation Councilman Jay Julius, the GPT coal export terminal — planned to displace 3,500-year-old Lummi burial grounds — would result in, “irreversible and irretrievable damage to our spiritual values.”
As I noted in my May 5 article White Power on the Salish Sea, the Wall Street/Tea Party convergence supporting GPT has emerged as a threat not only to endangered species like the Orca whale and Chinook salmon, but also to the continued existence of democratic functions of governance. As the Wall Street/AFL-CIO alliance attempts to stampede local and state authorities, the Anti-Indian Movement is gearing up for a multi-year, multi-pronged offensive to undermine environmental protection and tribal sovereignty. As Ken Toole of the Montana Human Rights Network remarked in his 2000 report Drumming Up Resentment, “in this last iteration, the elimination [of Indian people] is not by the murder of individuals, but by the termination of their structures of self-governance, the taking of their resources, and by defining them as part of ‘the rest of the country’ through forced assimilation.”
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