Friday, February 9, 2018

Carbon Free Thurston Efforts Underway

Above: Tom Crawford, chair of the Thurston Climate Action Team, stands near a City of Olympia stormwater bypass pump station in downtown Olympia near Capitol Lake. Crawford is working on a regional climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Regional elected officials met January 31 to discuss the threat of sea level rise and begin planning efforts to save downtown Olympia.

After being presented with sobering predictions and graphics showing most of downtown Olympia as we know it under water, Thurston County Commissioner John Hutchings asked: is there a natural, self-correcting way to mitigate some of the damage caused by climate change?

His question fell right into the lap of many climate change activists who work hard to educate anyone who will listen, improve public policy, and change personal habits to reduce contributions to greenhouse gas emissions.

The Thurston County Commissioners, who also act as the county board of health, will face a myriad of health impacts that will result with climate change: poor air quality,  asthma, heat stroke, food and water contamination, stress, barriers to health services, and issues with mold, bugs and disease.

Although a regional sea level rise response effort is currently underway, one group is working toward the development of a more holistic, regional climate action plan.

Carbon Free Thurston, a subgroup of the nonprofit Thurston Climate Action Team (TCAT) led by Tom Crawford, is actively working to influence the cities of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater and Thurston County to focus on community-wide reductions in greenhouse gases. 

The group will participate in recommending a set of clean energy strategies to help the region hit greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Their efforts seem to be working so far.

In light of a meltdown on the federal level where it seems no action is going to take place, TCAT members met with regional city staff and attended council meetings and budget hearings to support the setting aside of money in 2018 budgets for climate action planning.

The City of Olympia contributed $80,000 and the City of Tumwater contributed $40,000. The City of Lacey has expressed interest in participating but has not yet decided on funding toward the project.

The group is still looking to Lacey to contribute at least $80,000. 

For their part, the Thurston County commissioners have set aside a half hour on their February 28 work session agenda to discuss the issue and possible funding.

It is estimated that the total cost to develop a regional plan would be $200,000.

Crawford, a retired consultant on Native American curriculum and education and information technology issues, addressed the Olympia city council during public comment on Tuesday night and thanked them for their financial commitment. 

Above: Andy Haub, City of Olympia water resources director, and Lacey Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt visit after the sea level rise planning meeting of regional elected officials on January 31. Last year, Lacey adopted a carbon reduction and resiliency plan that included community wide goals and possible strategies for reducing carbon emissions.

The Thurston Regional Planning Council’s sustainability plan, Sustainable Thurston, includes a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The numbers are based on recommendations of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“We’re way behind….We’re not going to even make the 2020 targets because we’re just starting to plan. If we keep the present policies in place, our total won’t increase greenhouse gas emissions, but they won’t decrease them either. We have to start significant action now,” Crawford said during a recent interview with Little Hollywood.

Crawford says the region doesn’t need to start from scratch to get this done: the homegrown Climate and Clean Energy Work Group of Thurston Thrives has already done a lot of the homework.

Thurston Thrives is a county-wide initiative composed of community members who work together to improve public health and safety.

A January 12 email from the Climate and Clean Energy Work Group to county commissioners and city councilmembers of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater outlines a comprehensive list of climate planning recommendations.

“We believe a regional plan will provide a good foundation to regional action…this collective impact model is central to our work…and supports the physical and social health of our residents, and the health and vibrancy of our economy,” it says.

Crawford served as chair of the work group for about two years and is still an active member. He knows climate action planning is an overwhelming concept, but says getting to work on a regional plan dovetails well with current sea level rise planning efforts by the City of Olympia, the LOTT Cleanwater Alliance and the Port of Olympia.

“Sea level rise planning is just one element….A regional plan has other benefits. Most helpful would be to get Puget Sound Energy off coal and then getting them to produce carbon free alternatives. Other climate action planning angles are to make it feasible for more city residents to drive electric vehicles and obtain energy efficient retrofits to their homes.”

Puget Sound Energy says it intends to shut down four Colstrip coal plants in Montana by 2027, but for many, that’s not soon enough.

“That is the biggest part of the solution. We will not be able to achieve our targets without that happening…. Nature is telling us you can’t do this anymore. Unless we address the root causes, we’re not going to get ahead of climate change. It’s going to overwhelm us,” said Crawford.

Thurston County Emissions

Identifying the most effective opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in our community can come from the data. 

The Clean Energy Transition/Stockholm Environment Institute did a recent study in October 2017, developing an energy map and carbon analysis for Thurston County. This group also did a similar analysis for the City of Olympia.

The carbon analysis includes the use of coal, petroleum, natural gas, and hydro, and indicates what kinds of actions to take to reduce emissions based on current national fuel efficiency standards and Washington State clean energy standards.

New standards would include cleaner transportation fuels and a reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

Most of our county greenhouse gas emissions, 44 percent, come from vehicles. Fifty three percent comes from the built environment.

In terms of one’s individual carbon footprint in Thurston County, car fuel takes up, on average, 17 percent of the pie, and electricity takes up 36 percent.

Single occupancy vehicles are still the preferred mode of commuting for Thurston County residents despite carpooling, bike-to-work, and public transit efforts.

According to the Thurston Regional Planning Council, single occupancy vehicle commuting has actually increased, possibly reflecting the impact of urban sprawl.

Housing is a major component of the issue. Residential emissions make up 30 percent of county’s total emissions. Because rental units equal 34 percent of affordable housing units, providing incentives for landlords to invest in efficiencies is one piece. 

The county’s total cost for energy for residential is $166 million a year.

For more information about Thurston Climate Action Team and Carbon Free Thurston, contact Tom Crawford, or (360) 280-0242, or

Thurston Thrives: Begun in 2013 by the county’s board of health, community members representing local businesses, governments, foundations, nonprofits and neighborhoods are involved with eight action groups to examine the root causes undermining community health. Since 2015, it has operated under a public-private council. For more information, go to

Above: City of Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby, left, speaks with Olympia City Councilmember Lisa Parshley after the January 31 sea level rise response planning meeting. Other elected officials representing Thurston County, the Port of Olympia, the City of Tumwater, the City of Lacey, and the LOTT Cleanwater Alliance were also present.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Sea Level Rise: Olympia is not Alone

Above: Regional elected officials met last Wednesday evening at Olympia City Hall to discuss sea level rise response planning efforts. Members of Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater city councils, the Port of Olympia, Thurston County, and the LOTT Clean Water Alliance were in attendance.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Regional elected officials met January 31 to discuss the threat of sea level rise and began planning efforts to save downtown Olympia.

A sight rarely seen to discuss a singular issue, members of Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater city councils, the Port of Olympia, Thurston County, and the LOTT Clean Water Alliance were in attendance at Olympia City Hall. 

Over 100 assets in downtown Olympia have been identified and categorized and a plan for phasing in specific actions, with an eye toward long range strategies, will begin. 

Justin Vandever of AECOM, the consultant firm hired by the entities, presented the latest sea level rise science specific to downtown Olympia. 

“We know the science is going to change…every few years we’re going to get new information. The likely sea level rise scenario will be 13 inches by 2050, and 36 inches by the end of the century…but there’s a lot of uncertainty…the high range is 24 inches by 2050,” he said.

Reminding officials that Olympia is not alone, Vandever provided examples of other cities, port districts and water and wastewater treatment plant facilities that are also facing sea level rise challenges.

Despite his experience in working with various entities, Vandever said Olympia is unique and its plans and ideas need to be relevant and flexible to the area, which includes three miles of shoreline.

Most of the graphics were overwhelming, eliciting a range of emotions, questions and comments.

Port of Olympia Commissioner EJ Zita expressed her views on mitigation and adaptation. 

“...Much of the hometown we love is going to flood. We have no choice but to adapt. Meanwhile, we can still make choices to mitigate - to slow or reduce climate change. By choosing to encourage dense urban development, especially on higher ground, we can make transportation more efficient, and preserve farmland and open spaces. By choosing renewables instead of coal in Washington State, we can make electricity cleaner. And by installing more charging stations, we can electrify vehicle transport.

“Ports can play a major role in mitigation. By cancelling the biggest oil terminal in the U.S., the Port of Vancouver discouraged oil transport and burning. Our own Port of Olympia could choose not to support fracking for fossil fuels,” she said.  

Lacey Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt focused her concerns on infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, fire and police stations, and the LOTT Cleanwater Alliance water and wastewater treatment plant.

“The plant represents a community investment of over $500 million dollars, and it is critical infrastructure that is essential to the continued protection of public health and our environment. It needs to be protected from sea level rise.”

She said she often hears from Lacey residents that they don't have to deal with sea level rises issues and asked Mike Strub, executive director of the LOTT Cleanwater Alliance, to explain what the impact would be to Lacey.

When Lacey toilets back up, then they will care, he quipped. Quickly getting serious, however, Strub explained how sea level rise will impact the whole region.

“There will be an impact on all communities. The process (of inundation) would cause the system to shut down. The Budd Inlet Treatment Plant is the mothership of the treatment system. We can keep it going for a little while, but if we lose power, we cant get water through the plant. It wouldnt go anywhere. It would be a serious situation. Its a fragile line. Once thats crossed, there are serious consequences.

Pratt, who serves as Laceys representative to the LOTT Board, elaborated on her concerns to Little Hollywood after the meeting:

“LOTT will need to keep updating equipment, such as generators and pumps, which will add costs to ratepayers. I think that is an important element for Lacey because they don’t get the connection between us and Olympia’s “problem.” It’s an out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue. Obviously, if LOTT fails, there will be issues, but it also means that wastewater spills untreated into Budd Inlet....I truly think this conundrum needs to be addressed in the outreach plan. It isn’t just an Olympia, LOTT facility, Port problem but rather a system-wide issue.” 

Olympia City Councilmember Jessica Bateman asked several questions about Capitol Lake, and the assumptions used, given the possibility it could revert back to an estuary. 

The state Department of Enterprise Services is responsible for lake management. 

Andy Haub, City of Olympia water resources director for public works, responded that Capitol Lake is in the inundation zone and the intent of a plan is to accommodate whatever Capitol Lake becomes.

Port of Olympia Commissioner Bill McGregor mentioned his concerns about the protection of Cascade Pole, the former wood-treating site on port property that requires an on-site pumping and treatment system to remove contaminants from groundwater. He wondered why the state wasnt involved in protecting its investment, since it has spent millions cleaning up the area. 

Haub admitted that Ecology nor the Department of Natural Resources has expressed interest.

Olympia City Councilmember Clark Gilman said it was hubris to try and defend what downtown looks like now and urged that environmental and social justice organizations be involved in the public planning process.

City of Tumwater councilmember Tom Oliva asked about plans to finance sea level rise planning strategies.

Haub said governing a financing plan will be hard to sustain for decades, and an umbrella organization, such as a levy or flood protection district, could be implemented.

Above: The nine-story Capitol Center Building in downtown Olympia is reflected in Capitol Lake. The artificial lake was created in 1951 through the creation of a dam that impounds the Deschutes estuary. A hearing examiner recently approved a redevelopment project for the site that would add two new, 35 foot buildings. The proposed project is within 1,000 feet of Budd Inlet and Capitol Lake.

Clarification, February 8: Lacey Deputy Mayor is on the LOTT Board and serves as the board president.

Little Hollywood regularly writes about downtown Olympia sea level rise issues. For more articles, reports, and photos, go to Little Hollywood,, and type key words into the search button.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Approved: Mistake on the Lake Redevelopment

Above: The 100 foot, nine-story Mistake on the Lake obscures the stunning Olympic Mountain range, as seen from the Washington State Capitol Campus in January. Adding two 35 foot buildings to the scene, a City of Olympia hearing examiner approved a redevelopment proposal for the building. A public hearing on the project was held January 9 and lasted nearly six hours.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

“The Capitol Center Building is unattractive and its location is truly unfortunate. In a perfect world it never would have been constructed, and it could not be constructed today....Although I share in the popular dislike for this building I am left with no alternative but to grant it the same protection given to every other nonconforming building,” wrote City of Olympia hearing examiner Mark Scheibmeir. 

Scheibmeir’s decision, dated February 2, approved a controversial, proposed mixed-use redevelopment for the building by developer Ken Brogan.

Although the application could have been handled by the city, the nine-story building on the isthmus in downtown Olympia is so controversial that the city deferred to a hearing examiner to determine whether the proposed project is a permitted use within the urban waterfront-housing zone and complies with all city codes. 

Approval for the proposed housing and commercial project, Views on Fifth, is subject to some routine conditions.

In a previous case upon which Scheibmeir based some of his decisions, another city hearing examiner, Tom Bjorgen, called the building an errant thumb on the landscape. 

A nearly six hour hearing about the proposed project was held January 9 at The Olympia Center with over 200 community members in attendance.

Refusing to allow this project to go forward in the absence of any conflict with the Comprehensive Plan or noncompliance with development regulations, just to encourage the removal of the building, would constitute a taking. This would impose a significant, involuntary burden on the city – a burden it has declined to voluntarily take,” wrote Scheibmeir.

In June, 2017, representatives for Views on Fifth submitted an application to change the proposed use of the existing Capitol Center Building from an earlier proposed hotel to a multi-family residential development, and to develop the rest of the project site into a mixed use commercial residential project called “Views on Fifth.”

The city made a State Environmental Policy Act determination of non-significance for the project in early December, 2017, which was appealed by attorney Allen Miller, on behalf of several clients, that same month. That appeal was denied by the hearing examiner on January 25.

Above: David Nicandri signs in to testify at the proposed Views on Fifth land use public hearing held January 9 at The Olympia Center in downtown Olympia. Nicandri testified in favor of the redevelopment.

Numerous individuals and representatives of organizations testified against and in support of the redevelopment of the Capitol Center Building. 

Supporters said the project contributes to sustainability, economic revitalization in downtown, and long-term Growth Management Act goals.

Todd Cutts, executive director for the Olympia Downtown Association, said his board endorsed the project, saying more foot traffic is needed downtown. 

Joanna West, chair of the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, which also endorsed the project, called it a “unique moment for Olympia.”

David Nicandri challenged testimony about the original Wilder and White and Olmsted concept plans and spoke to the environmental challenges of demolishing the building.

Nicandri spent 25 years leading the Washington State Historical Society, was the founding president of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and currently sits on the City of Tumwater Historic Preservation Commission.

In the late 1970s, he incorporated Citizens to Save the Thurston County Courthouse, resulting in an effort that successfully sued the state of Washington to preserve the building on Capitol Way. 

“In that case, you had another building…so incongruous, so ugly, so poorly designed in comparison to the state capitol group that it did not deserve to remain on the landscape. It was intended to be demolished because it would obscure views of the capital from the east campus, what eventually became the state Department of Natural Resources building. Of course, in the greatest irony, at present the state office of archaeology and historic preservation is housed in that building.”

Scheibmeir stated that the proposed redevelopment meets all codes, even to scenic views.

“It might be argued that the two additional buildings, the Southwest Building and the Northwest Building, impair existing scenic views, but the view analysis provided by the applicant…adequately demonstrates that the views toward Capitol Lake and the Capitol from 4th Avenue are not worsened by these additional buildings,” wrote Scheibmeir in his decision.

Above: A screenshot of the proposed Views on Fifth and two additional 35 foot buildings as seen from the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Simmons Street. 

For more photos and information about Views on Fifth, or the Views on 5th, Mistake on the Lake, Capitol Center Building, owner Ken Brogan, downtown Olympia, sea level rise, flood events, King Tides, the proposed hotel, or the isthmus, go to Little Hollywood,, and type key words into the search button.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Indigenous Occupation Over at State Capitol

Above: The indigenous occupation of the Washington State Capitol Campus is over. One woman was arrested and charged with second degree criminal trespass.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

The occupation of the Washington State Capitol Campus by several indigenous women in a tarpee is over. 

At about 4:00 a.m. Thursday morning, law enforcement arrived and reportedly gave a two minute warning for the women to leave the tarpee.

One woman, Janene Hampton, could not be woken up in time to leave and she was handcuffed and arrested. She said that she was treated with compassion and the officer did not use force. She was charged with second degree trespass.

In an interview with Little Hollywood, Hampton says she plans on being present throughout the 60 day legislative session and will continue the conversations that have been started. She said she feels like she was relocated again. 

During the removal of the women and the tarpee, sacred items were treated with care and returned. 

Paul Cheoketen Wagner provided a live Facebook feed of the events while viewers from Arizona to Australia watched and listened. Wagner and others sang, drummed and prayed while the tarpee was taken down by workers with the state Department of Enterprise Services. It was then loaded into a van. Wagner said that it was done with respect, and “that’s the only consolation.” 

Wagner has been told he can get the tarpee back on Tuesday. 

American Indian Lobby Day at the Washington State Capitol Campus is January 23.

For more photos and stories about the indigenous occupation, and a previous interview with Janene Hampton, go to Little Hollywood, and type key words into the search button.

Indigenous Occupation Continues at State Capitol

Above: Dakota Case, Puyallup, and Eva Ingram, Santee Sioux Niabrara Nebraska, start Tuesday morning with a blessing on the grounds of the Washington State Capitol Campus. Ingram, left, is one of seven women staying in a tarpee overnight outside the Legislative Building.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Drumming, singing, prayer and ceremony, along with the burning of sage and cedar, continued on day three Wednesday as several indigenous women occupy the land and spend nights in a tarpee on the Washington State Capitol Campus. Supporters are always present. 

At about 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, a second notice was delivered to occupiers to vacate the grounds or face arrest. 

Everyone was respectful as two Department of Enterprise Services representatives handed out the notice, explaining that they just wanted consistency in the application of the rules. The notice cites Washington Administrative Code regarding the prohibition of camping and a process for obtaining a permit. 

According to the notice, the Department of Enterprise Services is open to issuing the group a permit to erect their structures and displays on a nearby location that doesn't damage Capitol grounds.

Robert Satiacum, Puyallup, and others spoke with the representatives and showed them a copy of the Medicine Creek Treaty. That interaction was videotaped on a live Facebook feed by Angie Spencer.

On Wednesday, they were served another notice and were told it would be the final one. The announcement was made that everyone would be subject to arrest, but the order was unclear as to where observers could stand and not be arrested. 

As of Wednesday evening, there was no police presence.

Eva Ingram, Santee Sioux Niabrara Nebraska, of Seattle has been sleeping in the tarpee. She runs her own company, Independent Two Spirit Media, and explained why she was there to Little Hollywood.

“We are here so we can pray over this land – as indigenous people we look to our women as life givers and life bringers. You as women teach our young ones the ways that we should live, and bring them up that this land is for you, and you are to respect it, the four-legged, the two-legged...and that’s the power that the life bringers and life givers hold. It’s more power than any male will ever understand. So that’s something that we needed here. There’s never been in history seven women to occupy a tarpee or teepee or any kind of structure in front of a Capitol Building in the world. No matter what happens, we made history,” she said. 

Ingram and supporters say 2018 is the time for action against the climate crisis. 

The occupation is also to bring awareness of the Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) plant being constructed by Puget Sound Energy at the Port of Tacoma on Puyallup Tribal land. The plant, which will serve natural gas customers and maritime transportation needs, does not yet have all the proper permits. Authorities say the permits will continue to be obtained until it is scheduled to open in 2019.

Dakota Case, Puyallup, explained how the LNG will further threaten the Puyallup tribal way of life.

“We live there, right at the mouth of the river. The Tacoma City Council allowed PSE to do their own environmental impact statement and the site is on top of a 70 acre solvent plume – a Superfund site - that’s over an aquifer...I don’t know how they got the dirt samples clean enough to present them…it’s on top of a leaking arsenic site and they’re trying to figure out how to clean it up. How they got past everything is beyond me….

“The toxic air pollutants will emit 81 pounds of ammonia a day at peak, but they only did the environmental impact statement at 50 percent…It goes up into the air and will come back down right into our water. The air quality in the City of Tacoma is so polluted that we have one of the highest cancers rates in the State of Washington.

He says that in four more years, there will be no more salmon.

Our elders are coming forward and saying it’s a salmon estuary, that’s stated in the land claim settlement. The pH balance is already off in our water – our fish are having a hard time accumulating at the mouth of the river before they head up stream. They’re not able to spawn so we have to gut them to get the eggs out of there and fertilize the river manually instead of them letting them do it the natural way….Only twenty five percent of our salmon run is original, the rest is imported. The fish farms and the LNG are a threat to us so we’re trying to set up a government to government to negotiate. 

Enough is enough – we’re protecting our part of the Salish Sea....

As our interview concluded in the still of night, the rhythmic sound of rain and indigenous drumming and singing got louder.

Case encouraged Governor Jay Inslee to come out from his office or the nearby Governor’s Mansion to talk with them, hoping the drumming and singing was loud enough for him to hear.

Above: The Washington State Capitol Building and tarpee occupied by several indigenous women on Wednesday evening.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Native Women Occupy Washington State Capitol Overnight

Above: Seven Native women peacefully occupied the Washington State Capitol Campus in front of the Legislative Building in Olympia on Monday night. After being told to disperse, a representative for Governor Jay Inslee told them that they would be allowed to stay. Negotiations with a federal representative will occur on Tuesday.

Interview with Water Protector Janene Hampton

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

The first day of the Washington State Legislature’s 60 day session in Olympia on Monday began with a climate justice rally organized by and other climate action groups and ended with the overnight occupation of the Capitol Campus by seven Native women.

Major themes for the morning rally were stopping Puget Sound Energy’s liquid natural gas facility which is being built at the Port of Tacoma on Puyallup Tribal land, encouraging renewable energy, an end to fish farming, and protection of the 76 remaining Southern Resident killer whales in Puget Sound.

While the rally was underway, a Native encampment with several tarpees occupied the strip of grass located between the Legislative Building and the Temple of Justice. 

Tarpees are portable shelters made out of tarps and not to be confused with teepees.

Above: The Native encampment occupied the Washington State Capitol Campus in Olympia on Monday.

An unexpected situation for Capitol Campus facility staff occurred when they approached the camp at about 4:40 p.m. and requested that the “tents” be taken down, saying they were in violation of Capitol Campus grounds rules. 

According to policy, the structure could be there but they would have to put a wood floor down, remove the stakes and not have anyone in it overnight and move it every five days. 

One tarpee was occupied by seven indigenous women, including a 12 year old, who were threatened with arrest for trespassing.

When they did not leave, representatives for Governor Jay Inslee came out and delivered a message to say that the Washington State Patrol could be called to clear the camp.

A civil discussion of the issues ensued between Native camp representatives and Inslee’s staff. Inslee was working on his State of the State address, which he will deliver Tuesday at noon.

The land that the Washington State Capitol Campus occupies is Medicine Creek Treaty Land. 

After it was clarified that the Medicine Creek Treaty supersedes the State of Washington, a representative for Inslee came out and said that although they were trespassing and the occupation was unpermitted, the Washington State Patrol would not do a sweep of the camp as long as there was no danger or violence. 

The women were expected to spend the night on the Capitol Campus grounds in front of the Legislative Building. Negotiations with a federal representative will occur on Tuesday.

A live feed posted on Paul Cheoketen Wagner’s Facebook account chronicled the drama as it unfolded.

When Wagner requested that Governor Inslee call a federal government agent who deals with treaty rights, Inslee’s representative asked Wagner, “How long do you want to stay?”

“Fifty-nine days,” replied Wagner. “It’s not so much to ask - we’re on our own land!” Wagner laughed.

Saying that the LNG terminal violates all the treaties and cultural genocide is being delivered, Wagner said, “We’re here…we’re going to be here and exercise our treaty rights…and make sure they know that we’re doing this work, and they need to do this work too.…The luxury of time is gone. The luxury of weak decision making and decision making for the corporations and profiteering – that era is over and we need to realize that we are in a different era today and the choices are limited if we want to have a future....Celebrate the victory we have tonight – for future generations.”

Above: Paul Cheoketen Wagner, Saanich First Nations of Vancouver Island, who is credited with creating the tarpees used at Standing Rock, spoke earlier in the day at the climate justice rally on the Capitol Campus. Elizabeth Satiacum, Quileute, in purple coat, holds up a copy of the Medicine Creek Treaty.

Interview with Water Protector Janene Hampton

The night was quiet at about 9:00 p.m. when Little Hollywood interviewed Janene Hampton, Colville and Pentictan Indian Band, one of seven women spending the night in the tarpee.

A massage therapist and mother of three grown daughters, Hampton says she closed her massage practice to go to Standing Rock and stayed for six months. 

She now works at a spa in Bellevue that is supportive of her being in Olympia. She told them that she may need 60 days off, she says, laughing.

While the Washington State Patrol patrolled the area, the conversation turned more emotional as Hampton described how indigenous people have always known that they are supposed to protect the water.

“...The womb itself is water, the uterus, where the spirit goes from the spirit world into the human form...that is why we are water protectors. The men are the fire keepers but we are the life givers.

“Three hundred Tribes gathered to try and stop the Dakota Pipeline. There are 700 pipelines in the United States, and we are fighting the LNG in Tacoma. It is on a fault line….We have the right to our way of life, so we’re here because we want to be heard. Even today, when we were in [the opening ceremonies for the House and Senate], there were chants - ‘It’s not an Evergreen State if you don’t take care of the water.’ We are literally fighting for our culture not just for us but for everybody and not just here in Olympia.

“I have to talk like you in order for you to listen and that hurts because I’m losing my tradition. This is my family. It’s a sacrifice. It’s not easy. I worked double shifts so I could be here and not fundraise and ask for money. To me it’s really important to be self-sufficient...You don’t want to be a burden to the movement. You want to be able to help. 

“We have until noon on Tuesday and a federal agent will come...I honestly think they [Capitol Campus grounds staff] were stumped as to where they stood legally. I’m in traditional dress and I think they respect me more when I’m dressed traditional. I’m representing the people...I have to be pure of heart and do things in a good way. I cannot be violent, I cannot engage with them. This is a mentality that we got from Standing Rock...[law enforcement] were paid to try to make us engage so that they could fire upon us…and so, that’s the way that I walk, gently, so that I don’t put lives in danger. I am literally in ceremony.”

When you’re in ceremony, you’re not supposed to draw attention to yourself...people take pictures of you all the time, you’re in a spotlight, you still have to represent the people. Just because I’m out here doesn’t mean I want to look broken. There’s a standard that you want to put out there because people look at us like we’re dirty and uneducated, they just don’t have respect. A lot of people don’t even know we exist. They think we’re in history books….

I do educate people when I give massages. They’re on the table for an hour, so they’re like, “So, how long have you been here?” I’m like, “Well….” 

And then Hampton laughs again.

Above: Robert Satiacum, center, holds a copy of the Medicine Creek Treaty on the Capitol Campus on Monday.