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CELP Staff Join Northwest Tribes at R.U.N.

CELP Staff Join Northwest Tribes Gathered to Share and Strategize Salmon Recovery

On November 1-2, 2023, over 300 people from Northwest Tribes and Nonprofit organizations came together at Tulalip Resort for The Rise Up in Unity summit, an assembly of NW partners and allies focusing on prioritizing education, cultural awareness, and the exchange of ideas to address the current needs of water, orca and salmon. CELP Executive Director Trish Rolfe and Development and Outreach Coordinator Robyn Lynn joined the gathering to listen and learn as tribes discussed the importance of salmon restoration across the PNW and Columbia Basin and the necessity of removing four lower Snake River Dams for salmon to flourish again.

The event began with a moving 7 Drum ceremony in which drummers and singers set the tone for a summit grounded in the deep spiritual connection of the tribal nations to the land, waters, and spirits of the region. Over the next few hours, over 13 tribes were given an opportunity to testify about the issues they are facing with water, climate change, and efforts to restore healthy salmon populations to our region’s waterways.

“This is not policy work. This is spiritual work,” said Fawn Sharp, Vice President of the Quinault Nation and President of the National Congress of American Indians.

“Our generation is confronting the prophecies of our ancestors. They knew that our current lifeways would not be sustainable. It’s a trajectory that has an end and we have a choice to change that trajectory; to go back to our teachings, to back to balance to go back to honoring that which our creator intended and that’s the path forward. We’re not going to regulate our way out of this. We’re not going to buy our way out of this. We aren’t going to litigate our way out of this. We simply have to return to those traditional values and honor those. That is the path forward and that is the key. It’s quite simple –honoring that which is created and the way our almighty Creator intended, the way our ancestors have taught us and to follow that path forward. That’s the bright future that we see, that’s the bright future we are preparing for.”

Youth representatives of tribal nations and environmental groups also had their say. Maanit Goel, a senior at Eastlake High School in Sammamish and the Director of the Washington Youth Ocean and River Conservation Alliance and a Congressionally recognized activist, spoke eloquently about the necessity of changing our approach to conservation and climate change:

“It’s important we set a precedent that we can’t just solve an issue in any way possible –  we can’t use a whatever-it-takes approach. Renewable energy at the cost of a keystone species is not really “clean” energy. There’s so many environmental solutions around the world that are doing their part but also may be sweeping other issues under the rug. Even people who have been very strong environmental advocates fall into this idea of tradeoffs. The problem begins when we start putting things like keystone species into a cost-benefit analysis. “We need to save these species but we need to compromise.” A lot of people see that as a necessary trade off, but young people come to the table seeing that this must not be permitted. Salmon survival should be non-negotiable. We should be able to made emission reductions AND salmon survival. We just have to find out how. “

The CELP staff left the summit empowered and energized by the discussions and connections made. “It was an intense experience to spend two days so deeply embedded in these issues intellectually and spiritually,” said Lynn. “Sometimes, things seem so dire, but there is still so much we can do.” 

Don’t lose hope. The science is pointing in a certain direction, but there is another path. So often it seems like we are doing the impossible. This crisis is going to intensify. We are going to see food supplies collapse, the economy collapse, the military collapse. But we need to not lose hope. It is so important for us to be physically, mentally, spiritually right to be ready for the future. Don’t give up hope; know this is going to intensify, and prepare yourself. You are only going to get stronger. Native or non-native, you have specialness in your DNA.”

NCAI President Fawn Sharpe

Read more about the summit at the Seattle Times.



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42. CELP Staff Join Northwest Tribes at R.U.N.
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