ALBUQUERQUE (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 22nd October, 2019) The Lummi Nation - a Native American tribe in Washington State on the US border with Canada - is challenging in court the construction of Kinder Morgan's natural gas pipeline because it will affect its vital waterways, Lummi Councilman Fredrick Lane told Sputnik.
"Right now, we are fighting fossil fuel projects - the Kinder Morgan pipeline that's going to bring in traffic, tankers," Lane said. "That's a big fight. [The pipeline] affects our waterways and our waterways are our life-lines... That's why we are standing up to it."
On June 18, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada would proceed with the expansion of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline that will increase oil tanker traffic in the shared waters of Salish Sea by an estimated 700 percent. The pipeline carries crude and refined oil from the Canadian province of Alberta to the coast of British Columbia. Kinder Morgan, one of the largest infrastructure companies based in Texas, is constructing the extension of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Lane pointed out that although every Native American tribe is different, many have undertaken to defend their sovereignty, and the Lummi have always fought to protect sacred sites.
"The government threw us on these reservations and they are making sure that we are going to be dependent," Lane said. "But now you see a lot of tribes really coming out and standing up for sovereignty, standing up for jurisdiction and standing up against these corporations that are destroying our earth."
Lane stressed the Native Americans' voices are heard and the Lummi Nation will continue to fight the Trans Mountain pipeline project.
"Now we are up against the Canadian government who bought the Kinder Morgan pipeline. So, It's always a challenge," Lane said.
As one of the three largest tribes in Washington State, the Lummi Nation has the population base to make an impact for the sake of future generations, Lane noted.
"We've been standing up against coal ports and fossil fuel mega projects and pipeline projects," Lane said. "We have to stand up and speak up against those who can't speak for themselves - the four-legged, the ones that fly in the sky, the insects, the creatures that crawl on the Earth. It's really important that as American Indians we do that for the future generations."
Lane also said the Lummi Nation has resisted the construction of another proposed project, a deep water coal port at Xwe'chi'eXen, which is a 9,000-year-old burial site and a sacred site for the Lummi.
"We said 'no', they backed up, but it's still always going to be an issue," Lane said.
Lane noted that the Lummi Nation faces jurisdiction-related problems in dealing with local municipalities, counties and the state, but said the Lummi are seeking protection of their rights with the US Federal government as per the 1855 treaty they signed - the Point Elliott Treaty.
"Our treaty is with the US government, that's where we stand up to define our treaty rights, to defend our hunting rights, to define our gathering rights and to stand up for them," Lane said.
Lane explained that the Lummi, a fishing tribe, believe to be survivors of the great flood and the nation's motto is to preserve, protect and promote its way of life or "schelengen."
"We've only been American citizens and been able to vote for the last 96 years and with the oppression that we went through, what we call the American Holocaust, we survived smallpox, boarding schools and tuberculosis," Lane said. "It's up to our generation to stand up, speak up and be a part of our sovereignty in action."
Sovereignty is very important, and we are a sovereign nation, Lane added.
The NCAI is the oldest and largest non-profit organization representing US Native American tribes and the interests of tribal governments and communities.