I recently attended the performance of "What About Those Promises," a historical play about relations between the Lummi Nation and the U.S. government. A talented and passionate cast ranging from tribal youth to elders told the story of the Lummi's deep connection to the land, sea, and wildlife of the Salish coast, as they remembered a history of unfulfilled promises.
Unfortunately, new threats to their sacred sites and traditional fishing grounds have emerged with the proposal of a coal terminal at Cherry Point. This is a site of archeological and cultural significance to the Lummi, where artifacts from 3,500 years ago have been discovered as well as the remains of Lummi ancestors. As "the home of the ancient ones," it is linked to their creation stories and traditional salmon ceremonies.
The treaty of Point Elliott of 1855 gave the Lummi primary fishing rights to the waters surrounding Cherry Point, an important reef-net site for salmon fishing. Their livelihoods, which have historically depended on fishing, will be threatened by coal tankers and coal dust if this terminal is built.
The Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship recently passed a resolution in support of Lummi efforts to protect their sacred lands and waters. With them, and in support of Lummi resistance to this coal terminal, I also ask: what about those promises to respect native sacred sites and fishing rights?