Quinault Elders in Aberdeen traffic accident Tuesday

ABERDEEN, Wash. (AP) — A tribal spokesman says eight Quinault Indian Nation tribal elders and staff members have been injured in a traffic crash in Aberdeen.

Spokesman Steve Robinson says the Quinault group was headed to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Tuesday morning when their van collided with a pickup truck. Robinson says two elders were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, one with a broken pelvis and the other with a broken pelvis and broken ribs. Other injuries in the crash included broken bones, bumps and bruises.

None of the injuries was considered critical.

The crash caused the van to flip over. Robinson says the two people in the pickup were not seriously hurt.

“The truck just came out of nowhere,” one of the victims said. The accident put an abrupt end to the elders’ plans to attend a conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Upon hearing of the accident, tribal staff rushed to provide support.
“This was a terrible accident,” said Tribal Councilman Larry Ralston. “The Tribe and the families will take every precaution with our elders and provide all the support we can to help nurse them back to health. I just wish people would slow down and be more cautious,” he said. Preliminary indications are that the pickup truck ran a red light when it crashed into the tribal van. The accident is being investigated by local authorities.
Among other things, the Tribe is setting up grief counseling, as a precaution, for the seniors and their families.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of this terrible accident,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Nation. “We do all we can to keep our seniors safe. They are very precious to us. We extend our gratitude to the local police, Harborview, and Grays Harbor Community Hospital and all other emergency services personnel who rendered aid in this morning’s emergency.”
The names of the victims were withheld until consent to publish them is provided.

Quinault Indian National says Taholah residents are safe

The Quinault Indian Nation says repair work is done on their seawall and residents are safe – for now, adding that with climate change their work is not done.
In a press release, President Fawn Sharp said the “Quinault Nation is very grateful to the U. S. Corps of Engineers and all the people, programs and agencies that pitched in to help achieve this. But the work is not done. The effects of climate change continue. The sea level continues to rise. Waves are higher and the storms are more intense.”

The recent $300,000 project used 100 dump trucks to place approximately 4500 tons of rock along the Taholah seawall just south of the Quinault River. The tribe said it was breached in late March by pounding waves and high winds, and declared an emergency for coastal flooding in the lower village of Taholah.

Sharp added “We have to keep working, together, to meet these challenges and find permanent solutions. The slide at Oso and the sea wall breaching at Quinault are just examples of the challenges we have yet to face here in the Northwest. It has fallen to us, in this generation, to meet those challenges with strength, courage and cooperation. Climate Change is an enormous problem—one we must work together to resolve.”

Quinault Indian Nation considering lake regulations, could reopen Lake Quinault by late April

The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) Business Committee is considering draft regulations which could lead to the reopening of Lake Quinault to non-tribal use this spring, according the QIN President Fawn Sharp. The lake was closed in April of 2013 due to concerns related to water pollution, invasive species, public safety and the need to protect and restore salmon habitat, particularly Blueback salmon. It was reopened, for swimming only, in time for the July 4 week end.

Representatives of the QIN met with community members on March 26 and shared draft regulations with those in attendance, including fishing and boating policies, a possible temporary moratorium on the removal of docks and a probable restriction against non-resident boats. If approved, the regulation allowing only resident boats would minimize the introduction of invasive species through transference on craft used in other bodies of water. Invasive species, ranging from milfoil to quaggua mussels, can cause severe damage to a lake environment.

Lake Quinault: The lake is within the boundaries of the Quinault Indian Reservation  and owned entirely by the Quinault Nation up to the Ordinary High Water Mark.
Lake Quinault: The lake is within the boundaries of the Quinault Indian Reservation
and owned entirely by the Quinault Nation up to the Ordinary High Water Mark.

Another community meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 19, in concert with Earth Day.  This would be a forum, in part intended to inform and educate the public about invasive species, and other risks to the lake environment. Among others it is anticipated that there will be a presentation by an official from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Aquatic Invasive Species Unit.

“Closing the lake was not an easy decision for the Quinault Nation to make. We realize it caused difficulties for a number of people. But I’m happy to say that our relationship with the businesses and residents in the Lake Quinault area has improved and that there seems to be greater understanding about our reasons for taking the action we did. Lake Quinault is a sacred place to us, and protecting it and the fish and wildlife habitat it provides for future generations, particularly Blueback salmon, is one of our highest priorities,” said Sharp.

“As a business owner in Amanda Park on the lower Quinault River, I have regular communications with Tribal fishing guides and QIN leadership.  We, the Quinault River Inn ownership and staff, acknowledge the singular importance of maintaining the health of the Lake and the river ecosystem.  A healthy lake supports cultural heritage, tourism and the historic use by the Lake Quinault community. We thank the Tribe for its leadership on this issue, particularly in gathering people representative of all parts of our community.  We look forward to more work together to ensure our common goal.  As stated so well by the Nation, ‘Protection and restoration of natural habitats in the Lake are priority policy objectives of QIN and forms a central theme for the Nation’s environmental regulations and guidelines.’ The Quinault River Inn ownership and staff align with this priority objective,” said Peter D. Bailey of the Quinault River Inn.

A statement by lakeside property owners Joe and Leslie Wheeler said, “We want to thank and applaud the Quinault Nation for its visionary leadership in protecting Lake Quinault.  The lake is a beautiful resource of the Quinault Nation that the Nation has graciously made available for use by the general public. With foresight and an eye towards future generations, the Nation is taking significant steps towards preserving and even improving the beauty that is Lake Quinault.  We fully support the protective use restrictions placed on the Lake so that the Quinault Blue Back Salmon can thrive again its once vast numbers and to protect from the introduction of invasive species.”

The Quinault Nation will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Quinault Nation Declares State of Emergency

Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation, declared a state of emergency Tuesday night due to a breach in the Taholah seawall and destruction of a smokehouse, other outbuildings and properties in the lower village. The damage was caused by high waves and intense winds. A press release from the Tribe said Sharp is the Chief Executive Officer designated to possess constitutional authority to issue such direction for the Tribe.

President Sharp also issued a voluntary evacuation order in the area and filed a request with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that the portion of Taholah in danger of being flooded and otherwise in danger from this situation be declared a federal disaster area and be made available for disaster support.

Sharp issued an executive order stating that “the dangerous condition continues and that the Taholah seawall is no longer capable of stopping the ocean from advancing into our lower village of Taholah.”

The executive order stated, “Lives as well as property are in imminent danger. A state of emergency exists in the tribal village of Taholah, on the Quinault Reservation.”

President Sharp met with congressional officials, including Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Congressmen Derek Kilmer and Dave Reichert as well as officials from the Army Corps earlier this month. “All of these officials were very supportive of our long term plans related to protection of our people from these ongoing dangerous conditions and the funding that will be required to achieve that protection on a permanent basis.”

Temporary mitigation efforts to reinforce the Taholah seawall were taken in January, when the Corps of Engineers placed 800 tons of riprap rock. “It is obvious that Quinault’s coastal defenses desperately require a more permanent fix,” said Sharp.

“We have been experiencing an increasingly dangerous situation with sea level rise and intensified storms. Our people must be protected. We will take whatever measures are necessary to see that they are,” said Sharp.

Quinault Indian Nation committee adopts anti-coal stance

The Quinault Indian Nation is signatory to the Treaty with the Quinault of 1855. It, along with other Northwest treaties, has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the federal government, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and is thus legally classified as the “supreme law of the land” under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

“Coal dust and diesel particulates will find their way into our air and waterways as these trains pass along and over our rivers, doing damage to natural resources upon which the Nation depends,” said Sharp. “The United States Environmental Protection Agency, Tribal governments, and environmental organizations have voiced concerns over the threat to human health these proposals bring because of the adverse health effects of coal dust and diesel pollution, including bronchitis, emphysema, lung damage, asthma, and cancer. Our elders and our children are particularly vulnerable because of sensitivity to the health effects of fine particles,” she said.

“The Quinault Nation’s treaty fishing right includes a right of access to its traditional fishing, hunting, and gathering sites that will be impacted by increased vessel and rail traffic.

In the Resolution, the Quinault Business Committee expresses its solidarity and support for the “no” position regarding the Gateway Pacific Terminal proposal adopted by the Lummi Indian Business Council, based on documented disturbance of sacred burial grounds and proposed fill of that area for the purpose of containing over a hundred acres of coal piles.

The Resolution also endorses the words of Billy Frank, Jr., Nisqually tribal elder and longtime chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) that, “We are at a legal and biological crossroads in our efforts to recover the salmon and preserve our tribal cultures, subsistence, spirituality, and economies. Not since the darkest days of the fishing rights struggle have we feared so deeply for the future of our treaty rights.” Quinault Nation, one of 20 member tribes of NWIFC, is signatory to “Treaty Rights at Risk” submitted to the federal government by that Commission. Among other things, that report states that coal export proposals will, in fact, further endanger Treaty Rights.

The Quinault Resolution will be submitted to President Obama, key members of the federal Administration, key members of Congress and to Governor Inslee.

Quinault Indian Nation Says Quebec “Could Have Been Hoquiam”

Westway Terminal Company, based in Louisiana and Texas, has been pushing ahead toward  construction of a new oil shipping terminal in Grays Harbor that would give it the capacity to store 800,000 barrels of crude oil at any given time. Westway predicts it will bring at least ten million barrels of crude oil annually through Grays Harbor, via rail and marine vessels. Two additional facilities for crude-by-rail—amounting to tens of millions of barrels of crude oil annually through Grays Harbor—are also being proposed in the same area, posing major environmental risks to the Grays Harbor community and the Quinault Nation. State and local regulators have decided to allow this proposal to go forward with minimal environmental review.

“It is not a matter of ‘if’ these shipments will cause a major spill; it’s a matter of ‘when’,” said Sharp. “The massive train, oil barge and ship traffic this project will bring to Grays Harbor is a tragedy waiting to happen. There will be spills and they will harm salmon, shellfish, and aquatic life, trample our treaty rights and cultural historic sites, and tie up traffic for extensive distances,” she said.

In 2012, major U.S. railroads transported at least 20 times as many carloads of crude oil as they did in 2008—more than a 2,000 percent increase in four years. “The number of accidents has risen proportionately,” said Sharp.

The Grays Harbor proposals add marine vessels to this patchwork system: crude oil would arrive by rail, be transferred into large storage tanks, then be piped into ocean-going barges and ships to be transported and again transferred to refineries in Washington or California.

“It has aptly been called a pipeline on wheels,” she said. “And this ill-conceived system has been given a short-cut permit process, with all the wheels greased, all for the very narrow interests of profits and short-term financial gain.  But the money this project will bring into our area will be dwarfed by the devastation when the spills come. Just ask our neighbors to the north,” she said.

Aberdeen Liquor Store Sells to Interesting Buyer

ABERDEEN, Wash. – The rights to Aberdeen’s only independent liquor Store sold for just over $95-thousand, and the winning bidder, is a Quinault Indian Nation executive.
Myrna Figg, Accounting Manager for the Nation is listed as the winning bidder for the Aberdeen location on Heron street.

When contacted, Figg replied that “The Quinault Nation policy is the Quinault Nation President is the spokesperson for the media.” President Fawn Sharp was unavailable for comment this morning.

The state Liquor Control Board announced on Monday the winners for exclusive rights to apply for liquor licenses at each store’s current location. The properties will be exempt from a new law that requires new liquor stores to measure 10,000 square feet or more.

The winning bidders still need to secure a lease with the landlord because the state does not own the individual properties. If they can’t get a lease, they can sell the rights or apply for a liquor license at a different location within a mile of the existing store. The state’s new privatization law goes into effect June 1st.

The Ocean Shores store sold for $205,000.00, all other stores in Grays Harbor county are contracted, and were not included in the auction of 167 stores statewide.