This, too, is Your Story. Will You Join Us?
What is the Nawtsamaat Alliance?
The Nawt-sa-maat Alliance is an empowered coalition of Coast Salish Indigenous Peoples, environmental, interfaith, and youth activists, and impassioned community members who love the land and waters of the Salish Sea and call it home.
Nestled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest and ranging from Washington State to British Columbia, the Alliance was created to heighten awareness of the increased risks and threats to our beautiful region by a fossil fuel industry that continues to exploit and destroy it. The Alliance mobilizes international, cross-cultural, and co-creative joint action to block fossil fuel projects such as the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion in British Columbia, as well as oil trains, coal trains, oil tankers, ports and other pipelines.
The Nawtsamaat Alliance is calling for unprecedented unified action to protect and restore the Salish Sea and the communities surrounding it.
All members of the Human Family are invited and warmly welcome to take part!
Where is the Salish Sea?
Many people in the region are unaware that they live on or near the Salish Sea. The term “Salish Sea” was officially recognized by the U.S. and Canadian governments in 2009 to unify the interconnected bodies of water that include Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Georgia Strait. The name also honors the Coast Salish indigenous people of the region, who have inhabited the land for thousands of years.Because the Salish Sea is a unified ecosystem, habit, and watershed, a threat to one waterway is a threat to them all. And threats there are.
Why Do We Need to Act Now?
At this moment, coal and oil companies are intending to transform this region into a fossil fuel corridor, to run oversea economies, and boost their own profits. In the Canadian Provinces protesters turn out by the thousands - Native and Non-Native alike - to rally against oil companies supported by a conservative Canadian government. Why do they protest in such magnitude? For one, the lack of concern for environmental protection, health, and preservation by the administration and energy companies such as Kinder Morgan has caught a viral-like awareness in the public eye. Secondly, these controversial and profit-oriented energy projects are destroying some of the world’s last great boreal forests and jeopardizing the health of Indigenous and non-indigenous communities. They are notorious for poisoning nearby water channels by leaching chemicals from mining and tar sands retaining ponds. Last month, the Mount Polley Mine retaining pond released 2.6 billion gallons of contaminated water and over a billion gallons of toxic slurry into surrounding water channels and communities. Thousands of tons of poisonous heavy metals such as arsenic, nickel, lead, and copper flowed freely into nearby lakes and rivers.
Another such project - the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline project - would increase oil tanker traffic through the Salish Sea from 4 to 35 oil tankers per month, carrying the proprietary bitumen of crude tar sands oil, each tanker three times larger than the size of the Exxon Valdez. They plan to carry this oil through the Hecate Strait, the fourth most dangerous water channel in the world. The Tsleil-Waututh people, an Indigenous Nation located within British Columbia, is one group that is fighting back. They’ve recently sued the Canadian government for violating its own laws in regards to the National Energy Board process. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation and educated populace know that just one oil spill would be enough to devastate the already diminishing and fragile ecosystem of the Salish Sea.It is highly probable that such an event would occur. The international effects would be catastrophic.
"We stand as One -- and Together -- we will Protect and Restore the Sacredness of the Salish Sea," says Sundance Chief Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. "Together, we are stronger than those who wish to use our home and waters as a mere highway for dirty oil and coal -- and together, we will stop them."
The International Treaty to Protect the Sacredness of the Salish Sea
On September 22nd, 2014, First Nations from the lower mainland, Vancouver Island, and Washington State have come together to sign a historic treaty to protect the Salish Sea from tar sands oil and related threats, making the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project illegal under Coast Salish Law.
The treaty prohibits the increased transport of tar sands products through the Salish Sea and specifically makes the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project illegal in Coast Salish Law. The treaty contains a provision in which the signatories agree to take collective action, if necessary, to enforce the protection of the Salish Sea under Coast Salish, Canadian or International Law.
The treaty signing follows worldwide rallies in the lead up to the UN Climate Change conference this week in New York. Treaty signatories acknowledged this larger threat to humanity. Over 400,000 people marched during the People's Climate March, accompanied by vast Marches in places such as London, Berlin, Bogota, Paris, Delhi and Melbourne! Over 2,400 marches in more than 160 countries worldwide. We are part of this infusion of spirit for goodness.