News from the Pacific Northwest

Northwest Indian College expands campus, offerings

LUMMI, Wash. - Northwest Indian College, historically a two-year college located on the Lummi reservation near Bellingham, now offers a Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science.

It's the college's first four-year degree and is a big step in the college's journey to become a full four-year university.

The college was founded in 1973 as the Lummi Indian School of Aquaculture, was accredited in 1988 as Lummi Community College and became Northwest Indian College in 1989. It has outreach campuses in seven locations and serves Native and non-Native students. More than 55 students received associate degrees at graduation ceremonies on the Lummi campus June 15.

Sharon Kinley, director of the college's Coast Salish Institute, expects 20 juniors in the fall. She said the degree, accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, is similar to a traditional degree in environmental science except that it looks at issues, such as environmental restoration, with indigenous knowledge as the basis.

As part of its ongoing new-campus development, the college has also finished construction of student housing and a cafeteria, and began construction on a child care center May 29.

Tribal hatcheries released 31 million salmon in 2006

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Treaty tribes in western Washington released 31 million hatchery salmon in 2006, according to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

Of the 31 million salmon released, 9.6 million were chinook, 9.5 million were chum, 7.8 million were coho, 3 million were sockeye and nearly 1 million were steelhead, according to a release.

Nearly all of the chinook and coho released were marked by removal of the adipose fin, a fleshy extremity just behind the dorsal fin on the fish's back. Clipping the fin makes for easy identification when the hatchery fish return as adults and are harvested.

Chinook are listed as ''threatened'' under the federal Endangered Species Act and hatcheries are used to supplement wild runs.

''Hatcheries serve an important role in salmon recovery,'' Billy Frank Jr. of the NWIFC said in a press release. ''While hatchery production will never be able to replace fish lost to poor habitat, we're taking important steps to ensure sustainable harvest while recovering wild salmon.''

Makah marks settlement site, honors veterans

OLYMPIA, Wash. - A monument and park being constructed at the site of a Spanish fort built on Makah land 215 years ago will consist of six large cedar columns and resemble a traditional Makah longhouse.

Washington Lt. Gov. Brad Owen was master of ceremonies at a June 8 event in the state Capitol to unveil drawings of Fort Nunez Gaona - Diah Veterans Park. Fort Nunez Gaona was built in 1792 and was the first non-Native settlement in what is now Washington state; from this settlement, the Spanish first established trade with Washington's First Peoples and documented indigenous culture, customs and language.

''This monument will stand as a very important marker not only for the history of our state, but for the history of the United States and area tribes,'' Owen said in a release. The monument and park will also honor Makah's military veterans.

The structure will overlook Wadah Island in Neah Bay and bear the flags of the United States, Spain, the Makah Nation, Washington state, the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation of Canada and each branch of the U.S. military. A stone monument will bear the names of area veterans.

The Caplanhoo, Hawley and Youngblood families donated land. The state contributed $58,000 in funding; the Spanish government, $40,000; and Neah Bay veterans, $2,000. Forks residents Bill and Kitty Sperry donated labor and equipment; Orca Creative Group Inc. of Vancouver, British Columbia., donated $15,000 in graphics services.

Young Native filmmakers get a boost at festival

SEATTLE - Young Native filmmakers participated in Longhouse Media's 36-hour filmmaking workshop June 7 - 9 as part of the Seattle International Film Festival.

In the workshop, called SuperFly, the young filmmakers were placed in five teams and given a script written for them by Sterlin Harjo, the 25-year-old Seminole/Creek director of ''Four Sheets to the Wind,'' a favorite at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, according to a relsease. The groups had 36 hours to storyboard, shoot and edit their films, which premiered at the film festival June 9 at the Egyptian Theatre.

''SuperFly'' is a term that reflects the short time filmmakers have to produce their films, hence the term ''fly filmmaking'' or ''filmmaking on the fly.''

SuperFly takes place annually in a different tribal community. To recognize the complexity of urban Indian identity and honor the Duwamish people, Longhouse Media chose to host this year's event in downtown Seattle, according to a release. The first SuperFly was hosted by Swinomish.

Longhouse Media Executive Director Tracy Rector, Seminole, said of SuperFly's participation in the Seattle film festival (more than 400 films were shown to an audience of 160,000), ''Not only is it important to create media, it is also critical to know that the work will be seen and valued by the broader public.''

SuperFly is made possible in part by support from the Muckleshoot Tribe, Squaxin Island Tribe, Swinomish Tribe and The First Nations Development Fund.

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