It appears that [Lyshall] is determining projects, grantees and funding now. I thought she was originally hired by San Juan County to coordinate the LIO part time as a county employee. Now suddenly, in this new proposal all the work and money go to the Conservation District. Is it because [Lyshall] took a job there in May?
We agree with Kinsey that the Council should start asking the LIO a lot more questions ... everyone should. Even in a world where miscreant government is the norm, the LIO sticks out for being a freakish Franken-bureaucracy beyond compare.
The Trojan Heron will do an entire series of posts about the LIO in the near future, but for the moment, we want to provide some background about one of its governing members ... the Tulalip Tribes.
First, we need to explain how the Tulalips fit into the LIO. The LIO is "governed" by an Accountability Oversight Committee (AOC) comprised of our County government together with three local tribes ... the Tulalip Tribes, the Lummi Nation, and the Swinomish Tribe. The LIO manages our local ecosystem, using the Puget Sound Partnership's Action Agenda for San Juan County as a plan. That's right ... our local ecosystem is not managed by our elected County Council. Instead it is managed according to a blueprint (the Action Agenda) formulated by a State bureaucracy (the PSP) and then implemented by an intergovernmental panel consisting of 1 collective vote for 3 local tribes and 1 vote for our elected County government.
So what are our LIO tribal partners like? Here are some facts about the Tulalips.
As anyone who has driven down I-5 knows, the Tulalip Tribes have a reservation in Snohomish County. The 22,000-acre reservation is home to about 2,500 tribal members (another 1,500 live off the reservation) and about 8,000 non-tribal members. That gives the reservation a population density exceeding 3 times that of San Juan County.
According to DSHS, tribal members are entitled to a $2,000 quarterly stipend, with a December bonus of $3,500. In 2012, tribal members received $11,500. The elderly and disabled receive payments of $1,000 per month. Tuition assistance is available for Tulalip tribal members attending college. Tribal members also receive an employment preference for jobs on the reservation.
Who gets to be a Tulalip tribal member? That is a very interesting question. These days, to become a Tulalip tribal member, a child has to be born to a tribal member who has lived on the reservation for at least 12 months prior to the child's birth. That means that a full-blood Tulalip born in Boston, New York City, or Portland is not a member of the tribe and can never be a member of the tribe. On the other hand, even a mostly non-Tulalip child born on the reservation to a tribal member is automatically a tribal member. These strange tribal membership rules are described by a Tulalip tribal member and blogger in the following way:
As a 20 year old Tulalip female, it disturbs me to know that there is no blood quantum to become a Tulalip tribal member. “The applicant must be a child born to any Member of the tribe, which Member is a Resident as defined herein.” [Sec.3.0] Since this is all you have to do to become a tribal member, the tribe ends up having a lot of non-native members.
The rules provide a loop hole that permits whites and other non-natives to enroll. My cousin is a perfect example. He is less than one-eighth and is still an enrolled tribal member. His child is less than one-sixteenth because he is having a baby with a white woman. His child will surely be enrolled because he lives on the Tulalip Reservation and is a tribal member of the Tulalip tribes. The resident rule excludes some Native Americans from enrollment.
For example, my younger sister didn’t have acceptable mail with her name and address on it. She needed it to prove residency which caused problems in enrolling her children. My sister is currently living on the Tulalip reservation with her children where they have been living since they were born. The rules also cause problems for Tulalip tribal members who move off of the reservation.
Other tribes tease the Tulalip tribes because many of our members are white. They call us white Tulalip because the large amount of white tribal members. A Native American tribe is supposed to be made up of Native American people not white or black people. If non-natives are allowed to be enrolled, they take money from the Native Americans.
In other words, Tulalip tribal membership isn't the same as Tulalip heritage anymore, and the Tulalips are not the only tribe to view tribal membership in this way. In fact, a congressional study predicts that nationwide only 3% of "Indians" will be full blooded by 2080.
The Tulalips have been very successful economically. The reservation operates Quil Ceda Village (a 100-store mall), Quil Ceda Creek Casino, Tulalip Resort Casino, Tulalip Liquor Store and Smoke Shop, Tulalip Broadband, a fish hatchery, and a closed hazardous waste landfill that used to be a Superfund site ... more on that in a moment.
Tulalip operations earn hundreds of millions in revenue each year (estimated to be more than $200 million back in 2005). Only a very small proportion of tribal revenue is generated from fishing these days. Reportedly, 30 tribal members are licensed to fish, which is down from about 130 tribal members in the mid-1980s.
Getting back to the Tulalip Superfund Site, the EPA says the following:
Tulalip Landfill is a 147-acre site located on North Ebey Island, within the boundaries of the Tulalip Indian Reservation near Marysville, Washington. The landfill is surrounded by Ebey Slough to the north and Steamboat Slough to the south. Surface water from these sloughs flows into northern Puget Sound, a federally designated national estuary that is a recognized habitat for shellfish and some endangered species, including salmon. The Tulalip Tribe leased land to the Seattle Disposal Company from 1964 to 1979. During that time, an estimated four million tons of commercial, industrial, and hospital waste were deposited in the landfill. In 1979, the landfill was closed. An estimated 7,800 people obtain their drinking water from private and municipal wells that are within four miles of the site. The nearest drinking water source is within one mile of the site.The site underwent cleanup about 15 years ago, and in April 2013, the EPA completed it's third 5-Year Review of the remedy. The remedy consists of an engineered 7-layer containment system to better isolate the waste and contamination, groundwater monitoring for at least 30 years, and institutional controls (e.g., land use restrictions and administrative controls such as warning signs).
Prior to landfilling activities, the land on which the landfill is located consisted of relatively undisturbed intertidal wetlands. After landfilling operations ceased, contaminated leachate was seeping out into the nearby wetlands causing concerns for human health and the environment, so the site was added to the National Priorities List (NPL) in April 1995. In an editorial from that year, Greg Wingard, President Waste Action Project Seattle, wrote the following:
EPA investigation of the site showed hazardous and bio-hazard waste was disposed of there. Leachate from the landfill was determined to be toxic and a danger to salmon in the nearby Quilceda Creek. When EPA sent a team of divers in to investigate the landfill's impact on Puget Sound, they found body parts, bloody bandages and other medical waste.
Most of the divers contracted armpit and groin infections as a result of their exposure. Tests run on bacteria samples by EPA showed most of the samples were highly resistant to the 13 antibiotics tested. Some of the samples were 100 percent resistant to everything used against them. This information is contained in the EPA Region X file on the landfill.From looking at the documentation and the data, I have to say that I truly believe the Tulalip landfill has an effective remedy in place now. In its current remediated state, I believe that the risks to human health and the environment have been mitigated. But if the remediated Tulalip landfill of horrors can safety exist directly adjacent to the shore of Puget Sound, so can an average home in the San Juans.
The Tulalips have a role in managing our ecosystem via the LIO. Tribal employees (e.g., Kit Rawson) have been long-term tribal representatives to our Marine Resources Committee. Tulalips have "usual and accustomed" fishing rights in our waters. When you encounter Tulalip environmental-ish policies and statements regarding salmon ... or regarding climate change and sea level rise ... or even their heritage ... take note that fishing is just one more line of business for the tribe and its tribal members ... take note that the Tulalip reservation has a delisted Superfund site sitting in wetlands barely above high tide on Puget Sound ... take note of who gets to be a Tulalip tribal member and who doesn't ... take note that the tribe is an economic and development powerhouse.
I believe Tulalip tribal government officials have been very effective advocates for the economic and cultural interests of their tribal members ... and we should expect our County Council to be no less effective at advocating for us.
|An oblique aerial photo of the remediated Tulalip Superfund Landfill on North Ebey Island on the Tulalip Reservation. Where is the buffer?|