The Quinault own and manage Lake Quinault and the Quinault River from the lake to the Pacific Ocean, and co-manage the fisheries throughout their fishing areas—inland and at sea. But the tribe’s ancestral lands and resources are under threat by Houston-based Westway Terminals, which has applied for permits to expand its current crude oil shipping and storage facilities in Grays Harbor, Washington.
If approved, the expansion would add capacity to receive, store, and ship about 17.8 million barrels of oil annually by rail, and store an additional million barrels on site. It’s one of many proposed projects that would increase the transfer of raw fossil fuels to proposed ports on the Pacific coast, dubbed the “gateway to the Pacific,” for export to lucrative Asian markets.
In response, the Quinault have joined a growing coalition of other governments and allies to form a resistance to fossil fuel expansion along the West Coast, at the heart of which is hundreds of years of treaty rights and case law.
“We are a fishing, hunting, gathering people who care deeply about our land, water, and resources, as well as all life dependent on a healthy ecosystem,” said Fawn Sharp, the nation’s president. “These proposals threaten our economy, our environment, and our culture.”
Sharp, who is also president of the 57 Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, said the best solution to the challenges created by what she called “the temperament of greed in this country” is the grassroots momentum that rises when the people—both tribal and nontribal—share a common vision and take action in their votes, voices, lifestyles, and the lessons they convey to their families.
“We know this country can’t break its addiction to oil overnight,” she said. “But we know that, over time, it has to be eliminated from use, and we know that process of elimination is a task that must be undertaken now.”
Throughout the Pacific Northwest, strength against the persistent intimidation of the fossil fuel industry has been found in this tribal-led coalition. “Tribal people are now, and have always been, the caretakers of the land,” Sharp said. “Our words have not always been heard. But when it comes to our sacred land, air, and water, we will always take a stand on behalf of life and the natural heritage we have inherited.”
Full story at ICTMN.