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.