Governor Inslee defends veto, discusses climate change with Tribes

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Washington state tribal leaders praised some of Gov. Jay Inslee’s actions at the Centennial Accord’s annual meeting on Wednesday, October 27, but also criticized his decision to veto articles in the tribal-backed climate pledge law.

The annual meeting focuses on strengthening the government-to-government relationship between the state and the tribes with representatives from the 29 federally recognized tribes of the state and a few other tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

Inslee was praised for her climate action, the appointment of tribal members to leadership positions and her willingness to meet with tribal nations at the 32nd Annual Reunion held at the Skookum Creek Event Center in Shelton, Wash.

“I know that the veto of the consultation provisions has caused a lot of angst in the community, and I understand that, but I am committed to developing a very successful consultation process and I am very happy with the way our discussions are going. unfold. that direction, ”Inslee said.

“We don’t agree on everything – the state and the tribes. And Tribe to Tribe, we don’t agree on everything. However, I do appreciate all of you coming to engage with you today, ”Squaxin Island Tribe President Kris Peters said during the opening remarks.

The governor thanked the tribes on behalf of all Washingtonians for their leadership during the pandemic.

“One of the things I say over and over is that the success of tribal communities is the success of larger non-tribal communities,” Inslee said.

Skipping the previous day’s pre-meeting sessions, tribal leaders address the governor about issues facing their individual nations.

Treaty rights and salmon

Carol Evans, president of the Spokane Indian Tribe, spoke of the natural resources meetings the day before to say that much of the conversation centered around treaty rights.

“The Spokane tribe is not a treaty tribe, we are an executive tribe … even if we do not have this treaty, there is still a responsibility of trust towards our people,” he said. she declared. “We too are Aboriginal people. We want to be part of the solutions – the solutions to climate change, the return of the salmon, the creation of a healthy environment for everything the creator has entrusted to us. We must be included.

Lisa Wilson, Lummi Nation Tribal Council Member, discussed education, tribal economy, on-reserve broadband and hospitality, drug and opioid epidemic, renewable energy , the water auction and a recent death of 2,500 chinook salmon in the South Fork of the Nooksack River.

“Climate change is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she said.

Snoqualmie Tribe President Robert de los Angeles has said he has a duty to share the uncomfortable truth about what he has described as the illegal occupation and continued desecration of the tribe’s holiest site.

Located about 30 miles east of Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls is one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions, welcoming over 1.5 million visitors a year. Although the tribe purchased plots of land surrounding the falls in 2019, they do not own the falls itself, which is currently part of two hydroelectric plants owned by Puget Sound Energy.

“We cannot be complacent and congratulate ourselves when our own ancestors cannot rest in peace knowing that each generation loses the opportunity to share the ancient traditions of the earth,” he said.

The president said tribal sovereignty was not factored into decision-making regarding the falls and the tribe did not feel supported by the governor’s office.

Climate commitment law

In a speech later echoed by some leaders at the meeting, de los Angeles criticized Inslee’s decision to veto sections of the climate engagement law that Tribes worked on to ensure historic levels of consultation. and protection of their sacred sites and cemeteries.

“The Snoqualmie tribe doesn’t trust Jay Inslee any more. He broke his word on several occasions, ”said de los Angeles, calling on the tribes not to comply by renouncing tribal sovereignty. “The Snoqualmie tribe will not surrender.”

The Snoqualmie tribe, the National Congress of American Indian and other allies publicly condemned the decision in May.

“Jay Inslee committed the most blatant and blatant betrayal of a deal I have ever seen from a politician of any party, at any level,” Fawn said. Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians and vice president of the Quinault Indian nation, in a Press release following the decision taken earlier this year.

Sharp reiterated his statement in May during his address to the governor at the meeting, calling for support for “free, prior and informed consent” – a standard set by the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. practical – who was adopted by the state attorney general in 2019 – goes beyond tribal consultation by giving tribal governments the power to put a complete and complete end to projects and programs which directly and concretely affect tribes, tribal rights, lands and sacred sites.

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Natasha Brennan covers the impact of Washington State tribes on our local communities, environment, and politics, as well as traditions, culture, and equity issues, for McClatchy Media Companies in Bellingham, Olympia, Tacoma and Tri-Cities.

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Sharp also pointed out the 1999 agreement signed by the government of the day. Gary Locke and Attorney General Christine Gregoire to institutionalize government-to-government relationships with tribes and the state for the new millennium.

“The first thing was: we have to understand the unique political and sovereign position of the tribal nations. And I think that’s where we saw a divergence, ”Sharp said.

Memories of fishing wars

Sharp said recent collective memories of violence against Indigenous peoples during the fishing wars were part of why she was so committed to the veto, but qualified her criticism by attributing the governor’s appointment to the judge. Raquel Montoya-Lewis – the first Native American justice on the state Supreme Court – which overturned a 1916 ruling that laid criminal charges against a member of the Yakama tribe for fishing on traditional tribal lands.

Inslee defended his veto, saying the passage of the Climate Commitment Act and the Clean Fuel Standard in the last legislative session was the biggest victory against climate change in US history.

He said his vetoes on two key elements of the bill – tribal consultation and a 5-cent gasoline tax he called “the poison pill” inserted into the bill by lawmakers – had earned him a lot of grief. But unlike critics, he said, the ambitious action was “most tribal-friendly,” citing that the climate pledge law sets aside 10% of funds for tribal communities.

“I want to remind you that $ 500 million would not exist without my veto,” he said. “I hope that in the next session of the legislature you will help us pass even more meaningful climate legislation.”

Sharp and Inslee are both scheduled to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12.

This story was originally published October 28, 2021 11:55 am.

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Natasha Brennan covers Aboriginal affairs for Northwest McClatchy newspapers. She is a member of the Report for America Corps. She worked as a producer for PBS Native Report and a correspondent for Indian Country Today. She received a Master of Science in Journalism in 2020 from the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of La Verne.

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