Lummi Nation: Congressional Threat to Treaty Rights

TIm Ballew II, chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council, wrote in Indian Country Today about the battle his tribe has waged against a proposed coal terminal smack in the middle of their fishing grounds.

In his piece, Ballew points out how Congress is now involved in the fight:

Under pressure from SSA Marine, Senator Steve Daines (R-Montana) and Representative Ryan Zinke (R-Montana) want to prohibit the Corps from making a determination about the permit for the Gateway Pacific Terminal based on a review of the project’s impact on Lummi’s treaty rights.


If the terminal is built, Montana coal can be shipped to China. So Senator Daines and Representative Zinke, along with 31 of their colleagues in the House and Senate, are urging the Corps to degrade treaty protections. In a letter sent to the head of the Corps, they complained about the treaty rights review of the Gateway Pacific project and suggested that treaty rights didn’t deserve review or respect from the agency.


Senator Daines is a member of the Senate Indian Affairs committee, yet he has coordinated this effort to erode treaty rights to the benefit of a corporation that has shown it’s willing to ignore the rules. SSA Marine conducted invasive testing at Cherry Point and carried out the unauthorized excavation of burial sites in Lummi’s sacred area. The rights of all tribes are under fire from some members of Congress who are putting the interests of a corporation with questionable business practices before their duty to honor our treaties.


 Richard Walker also covered the congressional machinations recently in ICT.