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‘We’re in a state of emergency,’ Lummi Nation secretary says of dispute with Canada

Lummi master carver explains symbols on a killer whale totem pole headed for Miami

Jewell James, a Lummi master carver, talks about the meaning of symbols on a 16-foot orca totem pole, and two accompanying seal poles, during the Lummi Nation stop of the Tokitae Totem Pole Journey 2018 on Thursday, May 10.
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Jewell James, a Lummi master carver, talks about the meaning of symbols on a 16-foot orca totem pole, and two accompanying seal poles, during the Lummi Nation stop of the Tokitae Totem Pole Journey 2018 on Thursday, May 10.

The Lummi Nation announced in a press release Thursday, July 18, that it has requested a meeting with Candian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss an international dispute over Canadian projects Lummi says is harming its territory in the Salish Sea.

A démarche, or formal diplomatic appeal or protest, was sent in a letter from Lummi Nation Secretary Lawrence Solomon to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, the release said.

“We’re in a state of emergency,” Solomon said in the release. “Our qwe’lhol’mechen (orca relations) are dying, our salmon are disappearing, our people are suffering. Our schelangen (way of life) is in peril. We have a Xa xalh Xechnging (sacred obligation) to care for our culture and all our relations.”

The release stated that the reason for the dispute is because the Lummi Nation believes the Canadian government failed to protect the Salish Sea after accepting comments and hearing testimony from tribes and First Nations.

“As our ancestors keep telling us, there is hope for the Salish Sea, there is hope for us. But we have to do the work,” Lummi Nation Director of the Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office Raynell Morris said in the release. “Part of the work is our nation talking directly to the United States and to Canada about what we all need to do to save and protect these shared waters.”

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
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