Environment | Opinion

Tim Ballew: Coal terminal destroys Lummi Nation's way of life

Tim Ballew. Still image from YouTube

Tim Ballew, the chairman of the Lummi Nation of Washington, explains why the tribe has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny a permit for a coal terminal that would impact fishing sites:
Salmon is our most important currency; it’s the lifeblood of our people and always has been. Our job is to ensure we have enough salmon spread across time to sustain our people and Schelangen, our way of life, now and for generations to come. That’s why to protect our treaty fishing rights is to protect the very future of our people.

The tribe recently asked the U.S. Army Corps to deny a permit for a shipping terminal at Cherry Point. We’ve been vocal in our opposition to the terminal and our request of the Corps is a natural next step in the fight to protect our rights guaranteed under the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855.

In a move that was unusual at the time, our ancestors preserved explicit treaty rights to fish in our usual and accustomed areas. They had the foresight to protect the most important resource for our people: salmon. Fishing, teaching our children to fish, eating salmon when we celebrate life and when we mourn those who have passed — it’s who we are. So we will continue our fight to preserve the way of life that our ancestors worked so hard to protect.

Our request of the Corps to deny the permit is also a critical move toward protecting our community from the devastating impacts of an industry where money comes first and a community’s way of life comes in a very distant second.

The proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point is a harvesting location of incredible cultural and spiritual significance to our people. A shipping facility poses significant threats to the health of our fish and shellfish. The increased vessel traffic would interfere with our harvest, and the resulting pollution from fuel and coal dust would create irreparable harm to our fish and cannot be mitigated. There isn’t a dollar amount that the coal industry can pay to make up for the damage the terminal would cause to our people, our waters and our resources. So the Corps, as a federal agency, has an obligation to uphold Lummi’s protected rights by denying the permit.

Get the Story:
Tim Ballew II: Cherry Point coal terminal would harm salmon, Lummi way of life (The Bellingham Herald 1/8)

Also Today:
Northwestern Washington Tribe Calls On Feds To Halt Coal Terminal Permit Review (Northwest Public Radio 1/7)
Lummi Nation asks Corps to deny permit for Cherry Point facility (The San Juan Islander 1/7)
Northwest tribe calls for halt to coal project review (The Casper Star-Tribune 1/7)
Lummi Nation: Pacific Gateway Terminal would violate our treaty rights (Crosscut 1/6)
Northwest Tribe Says Proposed Coal Terminal Would Be ‘Like Putting A Freeway Inside The Reservation’ (Think Progress 1/6)
Washington Tribe Wants Feds To Halt Coal Project (KUOW 1/5)

Related Stories:
Washington Tribes: Pipeline project threatens Native way of life (02/17)
Winona LaDuke: Dirty coal taints Crow Nation and Lummi Nation (02/17)
KUOW: Treaty rights affected by coal terminal in Washington (11/27)
KUOW: Energy company damages historic Lummi Nation site (11/25)
Crosscut: Lummi Nation raises hurdles to big energy project (08/22)

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