SATURDAY, AUGUST 27TH – TOTEM POLE JOURNEY BLESSING
“We do not want fossil fuels at all coming through the Columbia River Gorge — at all . . . We truly see what is at hand. … We are sacrificing and putting at risk the long-term benefit and well-being of future generations, our children, our grandchildren, those yet to come.”
~Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy
For years, the Yakama Nation and other tribes living near the Columbia River Gorge have called for an end to coal and oil transports through the region. The Yakama Indian Reservation is located southwest of the coal and oil-train corridor that passes straight through the city of Yakima, and just north of the Columbia River Gorge, where fossil fuels are transported daily by rail. The transportation of coal- and oil-by-rail threatens the environment of the Columbia River Gorge, as coal dust pollutes the air and water, and oil trains risk derailing and causing irreversible damage to the land, water, and wildlife that have sustained the Yakama Nation for generations upon generations.
In 2014, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), formed by the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, lobbied port authorities, the state, and the federal government to limit the transport of unrefined fossil fuels through the Columbia River Gorge. In their 2014 resolution, the CRITFC identified many reasons why to oppose the transportation of fossil fuels-by-rail through the Gorge, including, but not limited to the risks they pose to treaty-protected tribal rights and resources, the degradation of the water quality of the Columbia River, and the subsequent adverse impacts to salmonids, lamprey, and sturgeon habitats.
On June 3rd, 2016, an oil train passing through the Columbia River Gorge derailed and caught fire in the town of Mosier, OR. Luckily, no one was hurt in the event. Yet, the fire prompted the evacuation of local residents and a nearby school, highlighting the threat that oil trains passing through the Columbia River Gorge pose to residents and the environment on a daily basis. At a news conference following the Mosier oil train derailment, Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy stated, “The reality of the small percentage of those who reap the economic gains of these endeavors is not worth the long term consequences that could potentially be endured by you and I, [and] by our future generations.”
~Naomi Price-Lazarus, Stand.earth