Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Many People One Canoe

Published: August 28, 2019, Author: JayTaber
Many People One Canoe

Heavy industry—so named for the toxic emissions coming out the smokestacks—is weighing in on whether the Salish Sea will become the next Chesapeake (cleaned up after decades of abuse), or Baton Rouge (aka ‘cancer alley’ due to petrochemical pollution). The heavy industry contender for the office of the Whatcom County Executive, a racist oil lobbyist, could turn the Pacific Northwest into the Gulf Coast.

This race for top spot governing the proposed BP Cherry Point Trans Mountain 2 marine terminal—a gun barrel aimed at the San Juan Islands National Monument—will determine the future of the Salish Sea and Coast Salish culture. With the governments of Canada and the United States in the pocket of oil companies, only the Northwest Treaty Tribes, Governor of Washington and Whatcom Executive combined can stop them.

To mount a successful defense of the Salish Sea, these local governing authorities will need local citizens to stand with them against this industrial genocide. Somehow, so-far silent citizens need to find their voice and use it soon, or it will be too late. Organized racism by heavy industry against the treaty tribes has the capacity to destroy Salish Sea communities from Blaine to Friday Harbor—all for criminal ends.

While the oil industry crimes against humanity (especially against indigenous peoples) are well-known, heavy industry–that funds Anti-Indian political action committees through GOP/Tea Party money laundering—has corrupted Whatcom County society. With the active support of KGMI radio, heavy industry has created a culture of hate targeting Lummi Nation for exercising its jurisdiction under international law.

The Lummi people, like all Coast Salish, suffered horrible losses due to European diseases. After the Americans made treaties with these tribes, they were further devastated by Christian boarding schools and alcohol. A century later, the U.S. Government continued its genocidal policies through termination.

To Lummi Nation–a signatory to the Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion Treaty–the San Juan Islands are the core of their original homeland, and the sea that they share with the Nooksack, Samish and Songhee. Long before the San Juan Islands National Monument, 20-man canoes traversed the fog-laden, narrow waterways that make the San Juan Islands so magical.

It is all they have left.

As noted in Thin Green Line on June 26, the Whatcom County Council has been thwarted in its efforts to restrict petrochemical development by the current county executive. The Salish Sea Campaign—to be launched September 27 by Lummi Nation at Blaine Marine Park (5-7 pm)—calls for an international moratorium on ‘industrial stressors’ that are devastating the salmon and orcas.

Seven years ago, First Nations from Vancouver Island and Washington State paddled tribal canoes up Burrard Inlet past the Trans Mountain facility in the city of Vancouver. Joining the Tsleil Waututh and Squamish paddlers, they called for a united effort to protect the coast under the banner of “Many People—One Canoe.”

As noted at Sightline in 2015, the 40% increase to Salish Sea Ship Traffic would be caused mainly by the proposed Trans Mountain 2 Tar Sands export terminals at Burnaby, B.C. and Cherry Point, Washington. It is 40% too much.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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