Thursday, November 30, 2017

McCloud: "They're Not Honoring These Waterways"

Above: Nisqually Tribal council members Hanford McCloud and Willie Frank, Jr. listen to Kyle Lucas, Tulalip Tribes and Nlaka'pamus Nation, and Marles Black Bird, Standing Rock Hunkpapa Lakota and Cheyenne River Mnicoujou Lakota, of the Indigenous Caucus outside Olympia City Hall on Wednesday night.

- Port Rail Blockade Cleared
- Elected Officials Cancel Sea Level Rise Meeting
- Nisqually Tribal Councilmembers, Indigenous Caucus Members Meet outside Olympia City Hall

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

A confluence of events on Wednesday started with the multi-jurisdictional law enforcement raid on a direct action rail blockade that lasted 12 days in downtown Olympia. 

Then, after a meeting of elected officials to discuss sea level rise issues was abruptly cancelled Wednesday afternoon, indigenous members of the community marched from the LOTT Clean Water Alliance on Adams Street to Olympia City Hall Wednesday evening.

Nisqually Tribal council member Hanford McCloud and other indigenous community members addressed the crowd. Nisqually Tribal council member Willie Frank, Jr. and his wife, Peggen, were also present. 

McCloud said he has received calls from city council about wanting to sit down and talk. He said that while he wasn't sure what that meant yet, a councilmember who reached out to him this past week seemed scared of what was happening. McCloud said the action he was going to take right now is to speak with Olympia city council members. He said he doesn’t speak with them on a regular basis but has a working relationship with them.

“…The work you are doing is appreciated by a lot of tribal members…I see that a lot of signs you are carrying honor that (Medicine Creek) treaty. That is our goal. Some of the honor that needs to happen is with the land that we’re on, (and) the people who occupy the land….

“There’s a lot of issues, a lot of standing up, so we need to continue that message in that fight we have going on. My hands go up to each and every one of you here and the ones who have camped out and have sacrificed their time and freedom to go to jail…for these fracking materials….”

McCloud said that the Nisqually Tribe plans to host an indigenous environmental network and invited anyone to bring their issues to the council.

“These issues are concerning for us. We are fighting, at a legislative level, some of these issues. They’re not honoring these waterways, they’re not honoring these treaties….”

Above: Shouting “Mni Wichoni, Water is Life!” Indigenous members of the community marched from the LOTT Clean Water Alliance building on Adams Street to Olympia City Hall Wednesday evening.

Earth-Feather Sovereign, Colville Confederated Tribes and Okanagan from British Columbia, said she was “grateful that no one was arrested or suffered physical harm,” in the raid early Wednesday morning, “but there is emotional harm and there is an environmental harm….We are disappointed we have to fight our government for clean air, clean water, and land…this is not the way of love and understanding each other….”

The raid was carried out at about 5:00 a.m. by Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe special agents, the Washington State Patrol, Thurston County Sheriff’s Department, and the Olympia Police Department. There were no reported arrests or injuries.

Activists collectively known as Olympia Stand had blocked the tracks since November 17 in response to the Port of Olympia’s involvement in the acceptance of ceramic proppants and transfer of cargo to trains bound for North Dakota for use in hydraulic fracking.

According to Jennie Foglia-Jones, communications director for the Port of Olympia, the engine departed port property without any train cars with it. Cars filled with “sweetener” which were already staged on the other side of port property were then hooked up and went to L&E Bottling in Tumwater, she said to Little Hollywood.

Justin Jacobs, spokesperson for Union Pacific, said there were 12 Union Pacific agents involved, along with agents with Burlington Northern Santa Fe. It was a joint effort that ultimately involved safety and trespassing issues, he said.  

“The protesters were on live tracks which is a very dangerous situation. Thankfully, after we gave them the warning to clear the tracks, protesters cooperated. It was a cooperative effort all the way around,” he said in a telephone interview with Little Hollywood.

Elected Officials Cancel Meeting

Representatives of the City of Olympia, LOTT Clean Water Alliance, and the Port of Olympia were going to meet for a workshop at the LOTT Clean Water Alliance to review a consultant’s work on downtown Olympia’s sea level rise flooding vulnerability and risk assessment plan. The public was also expected to be in attendance. 

At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, Indigenous Caucus member Earth-Feather Sovereign told city council members during the public comment period that she was going to attend the sea level rise meeting, and had invited Squaxin and Nisqually Tribal council members to attend as well.  

Sovereign told them that the Indigenous Caucus does not represent the Medicine Creek Treaty tribes, but are advocates for the interests of the indigenous people who include the Medicine Creek Treaty tribes and environmental issues and their impacts. 

Her comments were acknowledged and Councilmember Nathaniel Jones thanked the Indigenous Caucus, saying it helps the conversation to have more folks at the table.  

Then, the meeting was unexpectedly cancelled Wednesday afternoon, leaving some members of the indigenous community feeling snubbed, especially since so many were coming from far distances. 

The opportunity to meet would have been timely in light of recent events.

“We have chosen to postpone this week’s sea level rise meetings, to a day when the community is quieter and we can more certainly support meaningful talks. It’s important that discussions take place when our leaders and residents can focus on the topic of sea level rise,” said Andy Haub, City of Olympia’s water resources director, in an email sent at 12:08 p.m.

LOTT Clean Water Alliance responded to an inquiry from Little Hollywood as to why the meeting was cancelled.

“With all the attention over the last few days focused on the Port and shipments of fracking materials, workshops focused entirely on the sea level rise planning effort did not seem timely. Climate change and sea level rise are related, of course, but the sea level rise planning effort is focused on how to deal specifically with rising seas, rather than how to prevent or minimize climate change. It is important that our elected officials and community members lend their attention fully to the topic of sea level rise at the workshops, and this week, their attention is elsewhere. The workshops will be rescheduled, tentatively in January,” said Lisa Dennis-Perez, director of environmental planning and communications.

Little Hollywood writes extensively about Port of Olympia issues. For more information and photos about Wednesday morning’s raid on the rail blockade, ceramic proppants, Rainbow Ceramics, sea level rise in downtown Olympia, and more, go to and type key words into the search engine.