Jul 11, 2016 - “Shared Waters, Shared Values” Quinault Nation Battles Proposed Oil Facilities

For the past several years, the Quinault Nation has vigorously opposed the proposed construction of three train-to-ship oil facilities in Greys Harbor. In the process, they have built a diverse alliance of local elected officials, commercial fisherman, environmentalist and other regional Tribal Nations.

Currently, Washington State has five oil refineries, four of which already receive oil via rail and the fifth has applied for a permit to do so as well. Roughly, 3 billion gallons of crude moves from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through Washington annually and oil companies are aggressively seeking to expand their presence in the Northwest.

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There are six proposed train-to-ship oil facilities along the coast of Washington, three slated to be built in Greys Harbor. If built, the new and expanded terminals would increase the amount of oil coming through Washington via rail from 376,000 barrels a day to over 1 million barrels a day.

The three major proposed oil terminals at Greys Harbor would have a combined capacity to handle 164,000 barrels per day, fed by three oil train deliveries per day. Additionally, roughly 700 ships and barges would annually navigate the narrow, and shallow, channel of Greys Harbor, home to a vibrant tribal and commercial fishing economy.

Of the tribes 2,900 citizens, one quarter are employed in the fishing industry. Tribal citizens harvest crab and razor clams and catch salmon where the proposed oil tankers would navigate.

On July 8th, Quinault held a mass rally to show a united opposition to the proposed facilities that included several Tribal canoes and kayaktavist, and a march to the Hoquim City Hall. Roughly 1,000 people joined in the demonstration.

Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Nation and President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, opened the rally.

Fawn Sharp President Quinault Nation. Photo by Marles Black Bird

We see it across the country. Not only are tribal citizens taking a stand, but those non-Indian citizens that share our values and share our waters, you’ve stood strong with us. We thank you for that, too. Now we’re at a critical place here in Grays Harbor. A decision is going to be made soon. The future of this harbor is going to go in one direction or the other. We need it to go in the direction of no crude oil in Grays Harbor.

When you think about what’s at stake, at Quinault we commission an economic study, and about 10,000 jobs are at risk and being jeopardized. 700 tribal fishermen. Do we have our fishermen here? About 3,200 non-tribal fishermen. Do we have non-tribal fishermen here? About 4,000 that are tourism-related and tourism-based. Who all here supports tourism in Grays Harbor?

Not only are those industries compromised, but the general health and welfare of all citizens would be compromised by this decision. Our ancestors gave up so much in signing the treaties. They wanted to ensure that our generation … We are the seventh generation since the Quinault Treaty was signed in 1800s. This generation is the generation that was secured by treaty, and it’s this generation that is going to stand on our treaty to ensure seven generations in the future.

The great Billy Frank, Jr at one point said, “The salmon deserve to be in healthy systems, healthy waters. They cannot get out of the water and fight for themselves. It’s up to us to take a stand for that precious salmon and that precious resource. We are the voice not only in future generations of our citizens, we are the voice of future generations of an abundance of salmon that we want to ensure will always remain in Grays Harbor.

No oil company, domestic or foreign, will ever be in a position to compromise and destroy that resource that God, the creator, intended for us to enjoy, for us to protect, and for us to long stand by. When we think about our future generations and our young children, they have so much to learn and to honor and to respect, and when they see the average citizen, the average adult, take the stand that we take today, we’re teaching them something very value and we want to ensure that we continue to teach those future generations the values.

As I said when we came in, not only are we sharing the waters and sharing the values today, but we are honoring our ancestors. We are honoring those ancestors that, from the beginning of time, paddled and fished in these waters, and we’re honoring future generations.

It’s not only shared values and shared waters by us today, it’s shared values and shared waters of generations prior from the beginning of time and generations well into the future to the end of time. It’s our duty and we will continue to hand the future legacy that was gifted to us to gift to those future generations to ensure that, long into the future, they will share the same values and the same waters pure, unpolluted, uncorrupted for future generations to enjoy. That’s our job, that’s why we’re taking this stand, that’s why we stand with each and every one of you today.

On behalf of the Quinault Indian Nation, we truly, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for joining us. The fight isn’t going to end today, it’s not going to end next month, it’s not going to end next year. We’re going to constantly face battles without previous resources. From this day forward, we’ll continue to take a stand with each and every one of you. We’re so incredibly honored that you’re standing here today and joining us. On behalf of the Quinault Indian Nation, we truly thank you for being here with us today.”

July 8th “Shared Waters, Shared Values” canoe landing, rally, and march.

Last Real Indians