Indigenous-led event at Canadian-US border draws crowds on land and water
Tribal and First Nations led the call to protect and heal the Salish Sea at “Netse Mot: One Mind for Xw’ullemy,” an event held on both land and water at the Canadian/US border.
“The Salish Sea flows as one sea,” said Jeremiah (Jay) Julius, Chairman of the Lummi Nation. “The salmon, our qwe’lhol’mechen (orcas), our kinship ties, our traditional cultures and languages, do not recognize the line between Canada and the United States. We are all connected and must work together.”
Speaking at the event along with Chairman Julius were Chief Tsilixw (Bill James) of Lummi Nation; Rueben George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation; and internationally renowned climate activist Tzeporah Berman. Raynell Morris, Director of Lummi Lummi Nation’s Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office moderated. Prayer, music, a qwe’lhol’mechen (orca) commemorative walkway, a community mural, everybody wearing red, and unity circles on land and water were also part of the event.
Tzeporah Berman, of Stand.Earth who recently received the Climate Breakthrough Project Award, said, “The Salish Sea has become a hub for fossil fuel exports which threaten the coast and our climate. Protecting the Salish Sea from projects like the Trans Mountain Pipeline is the right thing to do for the place, and it’s also the right thing to do for the planet.”’
“I’m honored to be a part of the work we’ve been doing for thousands of years, since time out of mind, explaining our law, how we work with spirit, how we have a relationship with all that’s part of nature.” said Rueben George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s Sacred Trust Iniative. “We have a word in our language for how my relations to move forward with you: naut’sa mawt. One heart, one mind, one prayer.”
“Our work is to protect and heal,” said Raynell Morris. “We protect by protesting projects like the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Roberts Bank Terminal 2 up in Canada, and Navy testing and Tacoma LNG plant in the US. We heal by spiritually feeding qwe’lhol’mechen and working to make them whole, and by bringing our relation Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut (the captive orca Tokitae/Lolita) home. We heal by fulfilling our xa xalh xechnging (sacred obligation).”
Representatives from Stand.earth, the Sierra Club, Earth Ministries, Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, 350 Seattle, the Mosquito Fleet, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, and the Orca Network were formally honored and hy’shqe-d (thanked) for supporting Indigenous leadership and the event, and for embodying netse mot, showing how we may speak with many voices, but are of one mind and one heart when it comes to protecting our shared home.
Stand.earth livestream video of Netse Mot: One Mind for Xw’ullemy can be viewed below.