The LSqualli-Absch, the Nisqually People, Indigenous Environmental Network and Indigenous Climate Action hosted the 17th Protecting Mother Earth Conference that attended by an estimated 2500 people at Frank’s Landing, site of the 1960s fishing wars that led to the 1974 Boldt Decision — a convergence of U.S. and Canadian Indigenous grassroots, frontline communities and Native Nations in order to build and strengthen strategic opposition, shift power, strengthen momentum (from Standing Rock) and confront the challenges of a new U.S. administration that is weakening and completely eliminating protection mechanisms for clean water, sacred sites, national monuments, forests, and endangered species as they fast-track dirty energy development in Indian Country under the guise of national security. . Nisqually leader Billy Frank, Jr., and his father were the targets of state game wardens for decades as they exercised their inherent and treaty fishing rights, on the six acres along the Nisqually River, now known as Frank’s Landing. Their struggle gained national attention through a series of civil disobedience actions, in which the Nisqually tribe pressured the U.S. government to recognize fishing rights granted by the Treaty of Medicine Creek.
These actions and the final decision reaffirmed the Treaty rights of Northwest tribal fishermen and allocated to them 50 percent of the harvestable catch of salmon and steelhead.* This year’s gathering is Indigenous-initiated, designed and led for the purpose of uplifting the critical voices of those on the frontlines who continue to fight against the violation of Indigenous treaty rights, self-determination, environmental justice, and climate change.
“We are coming back to a historical stronghold of the 60s and early 70s where the Nisqually tribe and its peoples stood up in non-violent direct action to defend their culture, way of life, and their inherent rights to hunt, fish, and gather in all their “usual and accustomed places”, under the Treaty of Medicine Creek of December 26, 1854. Our 17th Protecting Mother Earth conference will be at the site of Frank’s Landing where in the 1960’s, people came from all over the world to stand with people like the young Billy Frank Jr, who with many others, were harassed and arrested for speaking out for the rights of the salmon and a healthy environment. The Nisqually territories is also a birthplace of the Indigenous Women’s Movement honoring the legacy of Janet McCloud, the co-founder of Women of All Red Nations and who hosted the first gathering of the Indigenous Women’s Network.” Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network
The PME has an indigenous spiritual foundation with the lighting of a Sacred Fire that remains lit for four days. Coals from previous PME’s are used as the foundation of the fire and is the connection that binds us and strengthens our resolve.
“We are in a time of great change. A time of change that will require us to come together as people and reconnect with each other and the planet. As Indigenous peoples we have maintained a sacred connection to our Mother Earth that is critical in understanding and addressing the current climate crisis we find ourselves are in. Currently, the U.S and Canadian governments are making decisions and policies that move us further away from a possible climate stable future, by further investing, buying and developing dirty energy projects and not adhering to international climate commitments. This is an indication that we the People, Indigenous Peoples, must be prepared to take real action on climate change and be the leaders for the protection of Mother Earth.” Eriel Deranger, Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action, Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). Eriel DeRanger, Executive Director, Indigenous Climate Action
Important Links and Information
* Steelhead is not salmon. Salmon Trout and Steelhead are types of trout, an entirely different fish from the same family of fish as salmon. A salmon is always a salmon, but a Steelhead starts its life out as a Rainbow Trout. If the Rainbow Trout migrates to the ocean, it becomes a Steelhead.