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News from the Pacific Northwest

LUMMI, Wash. - The Lummi Nation has opened a shelter here for victims of domestic violence.

"We're calling it the Ne Alis Tokw," said Nikki Finkbonner of the Victims of Crime offices. "It means 'my sister's house.'"

Ten percent of the Lummi population have been victims of domestic violence. Lummi police responded to 250 domestic violence calls, and the Lummi court issued 59 protection orders in 2003. In 2002, Lummi police responded to 263 domestic violence calls and the Lummi Victims of Crime helped in 191 cases.

"These statistics are all the more reason why this house is needed," Lummi Chairman Darrell Hillaire said. "We are eternally grateful to the Lummi Victims of Crime staff for their hard work and dedication in opening this house of shelter."

At Ne Alis Tokw, tribal members find refuge from domestic violence. They will receive counseling and "a good old-fashioned place for safety - plain and simple," Hillaire said.

Makah gets $18,000 for development education

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Makah Nation has received $18,000 to instruct representatives of 27 tribes, 20 cities and three counties how to reduce pollution from storm water runoff by using low-impact development techniques.

Makah was one of 15 organizations in Washington state to receive Public Involvement and Education funding, to educate and involve residents with specific projects to protect and restore Puget Sound.

The money was awarded by the Puget Sound Action Team, a partnership of state, local, federal and tribal organizations. Fifteen projects share $450,000 in funding.

"We are confident we've chosen an excellent set of projects that will truly get people involved and educated about how they can make a difference in the quality of water in the Sound," said Anne Criss, education and water quality specialist with the Action Team.

The goal of the fund is to provide people with the information, experience and tools they need to become effective stewards of Puget Sound. Projects must improve the environmental quality of Puget Sound through direct action or change.

Casino revenue pays for Lummi utilities

LUMMI, Wash. - The Lummi Nation will spend at least $189,000 to pay the basic costs of water and sewer service for tribal member families through 2004.

Public Affairs Director Aaron Thomas said the funding will come from casino revenues.

The move appears to keep Lummi residents from bearing the financial burden of new construction that will require utilities expansion. Under construction are a tribal administration building, a 126,792 square-foot school, a Northwest Indian College campus, casino expansion, Head Start building, new homes and the Fishermen's Cove development.

"These will all have impact upon the water and sewer lines we now use," the tribal council's resolution states. "How each of these developments will be charged their fair share for use of the utility systems will be stated within their own site development plans."

However, financial times are hard at Lummi. About 500 fishers - almost one-fourth of the reservation population - lost their jobs when the fishing industry took a nosedive because of declining salmon runs; Lummi was declared an Emergency Fishing Disaster Area in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

"The entire tribal membership has family members affected by the fishing disaster or by drug problems in the community which directly affect some tribal members' ability to pay the basic costs of water and sewer services on a regular schedule," the resolution states.

Lummi officials said the Nation has sufficient resources to provide families with economic support and, at the same time, guarantee revenues to the tribal Water and Sewer districts for water and sewer services to tribal member families.

Salish house posts acquired by islanders

SAN JUAN ISLAND, Wash. - Two Coast Salish house posts will soon grace the entrance to this island.

The Portals of Welcome Committee successfully raised the required $60,000 needed to purchase, transport and install the posts, carved by noted Musqueam artist Susan Point. The posts will be installed during the Return of the Orca Festival in May, in a park overlooking Friday Harbor Marina.

The Port of Friday Harbor donated the site for the posts. Ravenhill Construction is donating labor for installation.

The posts are significant because they are the first public acknowledgement of the island's rich tribal heritage. San Juan Island, in Washington's Puget Sound, was the traditional fishing, hunting, trading and gathering place for the Lummi, Saanich, Samish, Semiahmoo, Songhees and Sooke. It was also home of the Mitchell Bay Band, a federally non-recognized tribe.

The Portals of Welcome Committee's fundraising is not over, organizer Barbara Marrett said. Several board members took out personal loans to help the committee reach its fund-raising goal; the committee had raised about $40,000 since early 2003 and feared another buyer would move in.

The 17-foot carved posts are titled "Interaction." One post depicts the relationship between the Puget Sound orca and its favored prey, the salmon. The other post depicts a Coast Salish woman and a mountain lion, representing the relationship between Native people and wildlife. A crossbeam connecting the two posts depicts eagles, which are prominent in the region.

Checks can be made payable to Portals of Welcome Project, 585 Smugglers Cove Road, Friday Harbor, WA 98250. Contributors will receive a letter of acknowledgement of donation to a 501C tax-exempt entity. For more information, call Arctic Raven Gallery at (360) 378-3433.

Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at irishmex2000@yahoo.com.

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