Sunday, May 1, 1994

Speaking for the Earth: Lummi Nation calls together world indigenous leaders

by Terri C. Hansen
Bureau Chief/Pacific Northwest Bureau
News from Indian Country

No less than cultural survival is the objective of an upcoming five-day conference scheduled May 15-19 in Stony Point, New York. Speaking for the Earth: Building an Indigenous Network for Sustainable Development is intended to facilitate the exchange of strategies between Native communities for keeping their traditions and lifestyles intact. Tribal leaders will focus on many of the issues concerning indigenous communities today; environmental protection, resource management, economic development, cultural preservation and the arts.

Participants include leaders from several Native communities in Mexico and Chile who presently face critical local situations. Leaders from Native communities in Brazil, Siberia, Alaska, New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia and the United States will also participate.

The conference, conceived and sponsored by the Lummi Nation, was inspired by the tribe's continuing efforts to protect the old growth forests of the nearby Arlecho Creek basin. Today, the ancient forests of the Arlecho Creek basin - sacred land since time immemorial to the people of the Lummi Nation - are endangered. The current landowner, Mutual of New York, has threatened to file a forest practice application allowing them to clearcut the old growth forests on the site.

"As an Indian Nation, we are one with the natural world," says Jewell Praying Wolf James, a Lummi tribal member and lineal descendent of Chief Seattle. "We have been struggling against the opposing actions of a western, corporate, profit-motivated paradigm in order to sustain our traditional culture, our lifeways. We believe that by meeting other Native leaders and communicating our own tribal stories, we can enhance the ability of all indigenous communities to survive and thrive."

Tribal leaders who would like more information about the conference may call Kurt Russo of the Lummi Nation's Treaty Protection Task Force at (206) 647-6258.

Copyright © 1994 Terri Crawford Hansen

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