Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bellingham to Seattle (Days 29-35)

Resilience at the Crossroads of Racial and Climate Justice at the Daybreak Indian Cultural Center, Seattle, WA
We are so often amazed at the way our journeys intersect with events and organizations. Finding that our initial schedule just happened to coincide with the Tongue River Railroad EIS hearings in Eastern Montana, the Miner's Memorial Weekend in Cumberland, BC, the Sustainability Festival on Denman Island, and most recently, an event titled "Resilience at the Crossroads of Racial and Climate Justice" in Seattle, all seems to strain the concept of coincidence.

But it is no coincidence that much of our tour has intersected with First Nations of the Pacific Northwest who are working to protect the lands and waters for future generations. Thanks to the efforts of our friend Richard in Bellingham, we were able to meet with officials of the Lummi Nation and were honored to have Jay Julias, a Lummi Nation Tribal Official, speak at our presentation in Bellingham.

The First Nations have always been a particular focus of our travels, beginning when we spent time with the Dineh elders on the Navajo Nation who are facing relocation by Peabody Energy's mining operations there. Each time we meet nations and their people, we become very much aware that we are family of white European decent, not because of the way we are treated, but in our own understanding of the horrors our people have perpetrated against native cultures.

When we give our presentations about Appalachia, about mountain top removal mining and the life cycle of coal, about the larger issues of all fossil fuel extraction and use across the world, it always feels ethnocentric. We speak in terms of how our lands and waters have been polluted, but in the back of our minds, we know it was never ours to begin with. We should not own the lands or the waters. Our only connection to the land should be the same as those who protected it for thousands of ensure that ecosystems remain that future generations will depend upon as the ecosystems depend upon them for protection.

We cannot change the history of this country nor the effect the Europeans had upon the First Nations people. What we can do is acknowledge what has been done and fight against the injustices against all people of all races, nations, and cultures. We can encourage people to learn from the First Nations so that they may take care of the land and our children and our children's children will have a future to look forward to.

As we journey further south and into the heart of the jobs vs. environment debate in Longview, Washington and Hood River, Oregon, we hope to carry a similar message to those who work hard to provide for their families. We should be working just as hard to provide our children a clean and healthy future as we do today to provide them with food and shelter.


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