Crosscut: Two Lummis separated by more than just ferry service
"If you're uncertain about the geography of the upper left-hand corner of the state, understand that there are two Lummis.

Lummi Nation, centered on a 20-square-mile reservation west of Bellingham, is where the community's ancestors were forcibly placed by the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855. The Lummis describe themselves as "fishers, hunters, gatherers of nature's abundance." They also own Silver Reef Casino. Unemployment persists at around 16 percent.

Lummi Island, one of the smaller of the San Juans (just over nine square miles), is peopled almost entirely by white settlers who started arriving, by canoe, in 1871. It's a working person's island and a retired person's island, rich in scenic views and artists, writers, and tiny farms. There's one school, a few cafes, and some B&Bs.

The two Lummis are a mile apart, looking at each other across Hale Passage, the saltwater that joins the Strait of Georgia to Bellingham Bay. An ocean separates the island from the peninsula — culturally, financially, and politically — and a growing dispute over ferry service has widened the gap.

To be precise, the fuss is between the Lummi Nation and Whatcom County, with the Lummi Islanders worrying from the far end. The county operates the Whatcom Chief, a 48-year-old, 19-car ferry connecting the two Lummis every 20 minutes or so when it can. Now and then it can't, because 48 is well past middle age in ferry years."

Get the Story:
Lummi Island ferry caught in a snag over tribal tideland rights (Crosscut 8/30)

Related Stories:
County seeks BIA's assistance in negotiations with Lummi Nation (8/26)