Deb Cruz of Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship shares this fascinating article about the proposed coal port at Cherry Point.
"The Lummi Nation, a Native American tribe in the Pacific Northwest, has taken an uncompromising stand against the largest proposed coal export terminal in the country: the Gateway Pacific Terminal. If completed, it would export 48 million tons of coal mined from Montana and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, and in the process threaten the Lummi’s ancestral fishing grounds and their economic survival. On Aug. 17 the Lummi people launch a totem pole journey — both a monument to protest and a traveling rally that will bring together imperiled locals, citizen groups, and other indigenous tribes for a unified front against Big Coal and Big Oil."
The coverage of the tactics of struggle that are grounded deep in Lummi history and culture are important reading for those who value both ecology and environmental justice.
I want to highlight one paragraph, however, that points to the sacred nature of the lands that are being ravaged.
As the spiritual leader of the tribe, Chief James conducts sacred ceremonies and often serves as a “witness,” speaking at important tribal events. He’s worried about Cherry Point, the place the Lummis call Xwe’chi’eXen, because he made a promise to protect it:
“Years ago, I walked with my elder, my granduncle, born in the 1800s. I walked with him right on this beach here. During that time, he taught me about all the burial practices of our people. Our people were buried in the trees. Our people were buried in the ground in the fetal position. Our people were put onto the water in the canoes that had holes in them. He was the man that told me: I want you to protect this area up here; because this is the homeland of the ancient ones, not just the old people. But the ancient ones; the ancient ones are here.”
This land that has already been bulldozed destroying 3000 year old human remains and hunting and fishing tools without permission and in the face of its protected status. Yet, this story from Chief James reflects a spiritual connection, a spiritual stake in this land that goes far beyond the physical of bones and tools. The spirits reside here of the ancient ones.
The Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship has been involved in this struggle for several years. While there is little that can be done at the state level, there is much that can be done by our individual congregations and leaders in reaching out to our Senators Murray and Cantwell to intervene.
We’re also encouraged to write
Colonel John G. Buck
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
PO Box 3755
Seattle, WA 98124-3755