Lummi Nation Officially Opposes Coal Export Terminal in Letter to Army Corps of Engineers
Having protested for months to a proposed export terminal for coal at Cherry Point, the Lummi Nation has formally registered its opposition to the project in a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers.
A number of rail terminals are proposed in the Pacific Northwest that would enable transport of coal from Montana and Wyoming to China and the rest of Asia. In a letter dated July 30, the tribe registered its opposition once more.
The terminal, tribal officials said, will infringe on treaty fishing rights.
“Any impact on the Lummi treaty fishing right is inherently an impact on the Lummi way of life,” wrote Lummi Indian Business Council Chair Tim Ballew in the letter. “We believe that the Corps should see that these projects would without question result in significant and unavoidable impacts and damage to our treaty rights.”
According to the Lummi Nation, Lummi Indians “maintain the largest Native fishing fleet in the United States. Moreover, Lummi fishers have worked in the XweChiexen (Cherry Point) fishery for thousands of years, the tribe said. The Gateway Pacific export terminal would be the largest such terminal on Turtle Island’s west coast, the Lummi said in a statement on August 2.
“It would significantly degrade an already fragile and vulnerable crab, herring and salmon fishery, dealing a devastating blow to the economy of the fisher community,” the tribe’s statement said.
“It is imperative that the Corps carry out its trust responsibilities as they relate to the Lummi Nation and the treaty rights to fish, gather and hunt in the usual and accustomed places,” Ballew wrote.
Below is the full text of the letter.
July 30, 2013
Colonel Bruce A. Estok, District Engineer US Army Corps of Engineers - Seattle District PO Box 3755 Seattle, WA 98124
SUBJECT: Lummi Opposition: Proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal Bulk Dry Goods Shipping Facility (Ref. No. NWS-2008-260) and the Custer Spur Rail Expansion (Ref. No. NWS-2011-325) Projects
Dear Colonel Estok,
The Lummi Nation has unconditional and unequivocal opposition to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (Ref. No. NWS-2008-260) and the inter-related Custer Spur Rail Expansion project (Ref. No. NWS-2011-325) projects at Cherry Point. As described in our resolution 2012-060 and in our previous letters dated October 17, 2011 and January 21, 2013 (attached), the Lummi Nation has a number of significant objections to the proposed projects.
In developing the Lummi Nation’s position on the projects, the Nation heeded the following principles:
1. “Everything is connected.” As our elders conveyed through our Xwlemi’chosen (Lummi language) that cultural and spiritual significances expressed by our ancestors for the land, water and the environment are all connected.
2. “We must manage our resources for the seventh generation of our people.” Our unique heritage requires us to honor our past, present and future generations. Since time immemorial we have managed resources that we are borrowing from our children and grandchildren.
3. As a tribal government, we have adopted the critical goal that we must preserve, promote, and protect our Schelangen (“way of life”).
Review of the known facts, data, site plans, and the development and operational goals of the projects have resulted in a clear and convincing conclusion that the proposed projects, if built and operated, would have a substantial impairment on the Lummi treaty fishing right harvest at XweChiexen (Cherry Point) and throughout the Lummi “usual and accustomed” fishing areas. Any impact on the Lummi treaty fishing right is inherently an impact on the Lummi way of life. The Lummi Nation cannot see how the proposed projects could be developed in a manner that does not amount to significant impairment on the treaty fishing right and a negative effect on the Lummi way of life. Please recognize this letter as a clear statement of opposition to these projects from the Lummi Nation.
The Lummi Nation expects that the Corps of Engineers (Corps), on behalf of the United States of America, to honor the trust obligations to the Lummi Nation related to these proposed projects. We believe that the Corps should see that these projects would without question result in significant and unavoidable impacts and damage to our treaty rights. If the projects at Cherry Point are constructed and operated there will be impacts on the Lummi treaty rights forever. It is imperative that the Corps carry out its trust responsibilities as they relate to the Lummi Nation and the treaty rights to fish, gather and hunt in the usual and accustomed places.
These comments in no way waive any future opportunity to participate in government-to-government consultation regarding the proposed projects and the associated state or federal government issued permits. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the attached comments or to schedule a government-to-government meeting regarding these projects.
Tim Ballew II, Chair Lummi Indian Business Council