Niki Cleary: A Tulalip perspective on dispute over fishing dock

Niki Cleary, a member of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, addresses controversy over the closing of a fishing dock to the public:
Priest Point is a culturally important site for the tribe. Historically our ancestors had villages in the area, our people lived, died and were buried there. In 2001 an archeological dig was conducted at the site when a backhoe operator unearthed human remains. The operator was hired by Millstone Coffee founder Phil Johnson to prepare a three-lot site for the construction of his new home. Tulalip was onsite throughout the dig to protect our cultural interests. Ultimately Tulalip purchased the land at Priest Point to protect the site from development. Since that time (that's since 2001, not just in the last month) "no trespassing" signs have been posted, and torn down repeatedly.

Although I don't expect people to immerse themselves in cultures outside their own, I do want to point out a very prominent hypocrisy. The non-native residents of the Priest Point area have vocally and sometimes violently denied tribal members access to the tidelands reserved for us by our treaty with the federal government. But that wasn't a big deal. The tribe, respectfully asked people to stay off of two dilapidated and dangerous piers, and we're the ones who are prejudiced? Thought so, just checking.

Let me put this in very simple terms. Tulalip owns the land at Priest Point and just like any property owner, we have the right to grant or deny access to our property to whomever we choose. It makes sense that we extend the welcome mat to our families and ask others to hang out elsewhere. It's certainly preferential treatment, but not, in my opinion, prejudiced.

Get the Story:
Niki Cleary: Fishing docks from a Tulalip perspective (The Everett Herald 9/26)

Join the Conversation