Topic: Native Americans
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April 2, 2013 at 4:06 PM
Olympia needs to uphold tribal rights
Billy Frank Jr., the chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, has been fighting for his people’s rights for decades. In Monday’s front-page article “Tribes’ win may flow beyond culverts,” a U.S. district judge upheld tribal-fishing rights established under the landmark 1974 Boldt decision, rights Billy Frank Jr. and others say are crucial to their way of life. It is about time.
We have consistently not honored our treaties with the Western Washington tribes as we have destroyed crucial salmon habitat and ignored our obligations to protect endangered species. Somehow, we just don’t understand that if there are no salmon in tribal home rivers to catch, the tribe’s culture is at stake. The tribes need to protect salmon as they labor to maintain their way of life. This federal decision is a major step in correcting this injustice.
We, as a society, must now be bold and creative in our efforts to restore the environment (more than just opening culverts), protect endangered species and uphold tribal rights. This determination requires thoughtful, discerning and decisive leadership from our elected officials in Olympia. The time, therefore, is right for Gov Jay Inslee to rally public opinion, to not only restore and preserve salmon runs, but to look to the future and create new habitat for salmon. We must seize the moment, embrace the federal decision, and listen to elders such as Billy Frank Jr. and honor tribal rights — for all our good. It’s not only the law; it is the right thing to do.
– Dennis M. Gawlik, Bainbridge Island
Rectifying past errors
In the mid-1970s my family moved to Newport Hills in Bellevue. Behind our house was a lovely wooded ravine. My two younger brothers would come up to the house after spending hours playing in the ravine. They told stories of huge salmon that had made their way up this tiny tributary of Coal Creek to spawn.
One day I heard the sound of graders, bulldozers and backhoes working in the ravine. To prevent slides and reduce silt buildup in the harbor and estuaries of Newport Shores, the city of Bellevue filled the tributary with concrete culverts and gravel. My heart sank because I knew that this little jewel of a stream, in the middle of a city, would no longer be the terminus for salmon that had spawned there for thousands of years. My father shrugged his shoulders and said something about “preserving his investment” and “progress.”
As it turns out, it was a small event in the “death by a thousand cuts” saga of wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest. I am sad to reflect on those decisions made by bureaucrats without the input of our vast fisheries resources. But I am glad, 30 years later, that some steps will be made to rectify those errors in judgment. Hopefully, in the future, my two sons will be able to watch wild salmon make their way up the fish ladder at the Chittenden Locks whose lives began in a small sandy streambed in Bellevue!
– Greg Gordon, Seattle
March 29, 2013 at 6:02 AM
Long history of denial, disruption and devastation
The recent article “Duwamish get new shot at recognition,” [NWTuesday, March 26] failed to cover the intense political shenanigans that led to their denial of recognition in the first place. The Department of Interior official who approved their recognition, after years of analysis, has disputed the allegation that was reported as fact in this article, that he signed the petition “three days after he left office.” The official testified under oath to signing before he left office and added he believed the incoming Bush administration was guilty of committing “bureaucratic injustice.”
It’s important to remember the fight for justice for the Duwamish began long before the “lucrative” casinos and “fishing rights” issues that were unfairly referenced. The push began with a famous speech by Chief Seattle in which he pleaded for land for his people just a year before his death and after treaty promises for land had been made — the Suquamish already had their land so he was speaking directly for the Duwamish.
It’s no secret that the incoming Bush administration had a high disdain for the Clinton administration and tossed out most of Clinton’s final decisions, not based on fact, but political whim. The recent court decision by Judge John Coughenour calling the denial “unfair” is a ray of hope in this otherwise sorry history of denial, disruption and devastation.
–Sandy Osawa, director of the film “Princess Angeline,” Seattle
March 3, 2013 at 7:01 AM
Original art should be preserved
The pictures of the magnificent murals created by artist Andrew Morrison were beautiful [“Beloved murals may disappear,” page one, Feb. 25]. The title of the article should have been “Beloved murals about to be demolished,” because that is the real story.
Seattle Public Schools has been indifferent, disengaged and dismissive of the artist and his artwork. Seattle Public Schools has made no constructive move to preserve the artwork, only offering to take digital pictures of it.
Original art is completely different from a reproduction. Lucy Morello is quoted at the end of the article saying the goal is to preserve the artwork, even though that is not what is happening and says they have several years to resolve the issue. This story has just begun!
–Ted Heekin, Edmonds
February 22, 2013 at 4:01 PM
Support the inclusion of Native women
I hope people will all notify their representatives to support the entire Violence Against Women Act [“Law would let tribes prosecute non-Indians’ domestic violence,” page one, Feb. 20]. Trying to remove a paragraph that helps protect women on reservations is criminal.
Criminals are not returned to their countries of origin for prosecution. Women who happen to live in tribal reservations have a right to swift justice. This right has been ignored for too long. Just consider this swift justice in courts closest to the action.
Presiding judges and legal representation are on a par with courts outside the reservations. Allowing these batterers to go free from the failure of the current system gives them the ability to continue their violence on more and more victims.
This is one way to curb the cycle of violence in our society, including tribal members.
The VAWA stops violence against women and children,is faster and more efficient than the current method and is less costly in money and human suffering.
Come on, legislators. Let’s do something for all the right reasons for a change.
–Paula D. Deter, Camano Island
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