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Lummi Nation starts recall of council member for attempt to develop Cherry Point

In this photo taken Oct. 23, 2012, a ship is seen in the distance moored at the BP oil refinery in the Strait of Georgia just beyond the location of a proposed coal exporting terminal in Ferndale, Wash., near Bellingham, Wash.
In this photo taken Oct. 23, 2012, a ship is seen in the distance moored at the BP oil refinery in the Strait of Georgia just beyond the location of a proposed coal exporting terminal in Ferndale, Wash., near Bellingham, Wash. AP

A council member at Lummi Nation is facing a recall after he allegedly tried to get and develop land at Cherry Point, a location the tribe has been trying to protect from major development for years.

Lummi Indian Business Council initiated a recall of council member Henry Cagey on Monday, alleging he tried to acquire land at Cherry Point for development.

According to a news release issued by the tribe, the action would violate Lummi policy adopted in January 2016 that declared, “the Lummi Nation opposes any and all development at Xwe’Chie’eXen,” the native name for Cherry Point.

In May this year, Lummi won a fight to prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from issuing a permit to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, which would ship millions of tons of coal each year from Cherry Point.

The Corps ruled in the tribe’s favor, stating the project would interfere with treaty-protected fishing rights. The Corps did not issue the permit.

“Under the Lummi Constitution, a Council member may only be recalled for gross misconduct or neglect of duty,” the news release from Lummi states.

The recall will provide due process, including a review by a panel of three judges from the Lummi Tribal Court of Appeals, and an opportunity for Cagey to respond to charges, according to the tribe.

In 2003, when Cagey was chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council, he visited the then chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, D.C. to discuss a Liquefied Natural Gas Regasification proposal for Cherry Point that apparently never panned out.

It is not yet known if the development attempts cited in the Lummi release are related to an LNG project.

Cagey had posted the following on his Facebook page Monday:

“Self-Governance affords us the right to conduct business for the future of our people. I assure you that when the full information comes to light, we all will bear witness to no wrong doing (sic) on my part or any others that the Chairman is alleging,” the message reads. “I stand behind my record of continually acting on behalf of 5,000+ tribal members as I was sworn-in to do. Thank you to those who have offered their support and love.”

When reached by phone, Cagey said the allegations he tried to acquire land and develop it weren’t true.

“I intend to follow the process and clear my name,” Cagey said.

He declined to answer further questions, explaining he was preparing a statement for fellow tribal members.

“This process is really for our own people and not for the public,” Cagey said. “I’d rather keep our internal politics at home.”

Recalls require at least a two-thirds’ vote at a special council meeting, which is supposed to take place within 30 days, according to the release.

The meeting date will be set by the council and announced to membership soon.

This story will be updated.

Samantha Wohlfeil: 360-715-2274, @SAWohlfeil

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