Protecting Cherry Point

Protecting Cherry Point

jesse and chief bill james

Jesse Ford of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis presents Lummi Hereditary Chief Bill James with their letter of solidarity and a handmade challis.

The following letter was presented by Jesse Ford, representing the UU Fellowship of Corvallis, to Lummi Hereditary Chief, Bill James, as part of the “Solidarity with Original Nations and Peoples” program of UUCSJ. Leading up to this journey, the Climate Justice Committee of the UU Fellowship of Corvallis committed to stand with Lummi Nation to protect Cherry Point, and call on the Army Corps of Engineers to deny permits for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal Bulk Dry Goods Shipping Facility. If the terminal is approved, ships carrying over 48 million metric tons of coal to Asia annually would traverse the fragile Salish Sea and interfere with Lummi treaty fishing rights.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis
2945 NW Circle Boulevard, Corvallis OR 97330
Phone: 541 752-5218
Web: Email list:
Rev. Jill McAllister, Minister Rev. Dr. Gretchen Woods, Minister Emerita Kyle Jansson, Board President

Climate Justice Committee Statement in Support of Lummi Nation

February 5, 2015

“Explore. Love. Act.” These are the words of our religious community, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis (UUFC). In our congregation, we are called to build deep connections as we respond to personal callings to act in the service of building a better world for all. In this spirit, the Climate Justice Committee of UUFC greets Lummi Nation. We are responding to your call for support in your struggle against the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point, a coal shipping port that would directly impact Lummi sacred lands and indirectly impact the lands and waters of much of the Salish Sea region.

We are not of the Salish Sea region. We are a predominantly Caucasian congregation south of the Columbia River in Kalapuya country, whose ancestral lands we are privileged to share. This is a land of camas and tarweed and winter rains shaped by the mighty Willamette River, once repurposed by colonial interests solely for commerce and now being tended back into some of its ancient ways by new communities of caring and action.

The Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship (BUF) has called on other Unitarian Universalist congregations to support Lummi Nation as it confronts the Cherry Point development proposal. While our congregation as a whole focuses on concerns immediate to its own geography, with this letter members of our Climate Justice Committee acknowledge the interconnectedness of our communities and express our desire to stand with Lummi Nation in its struggle to protect its sacred lands from development at Cherry Point.

We specifically support Lummi Nation’s recent request to the Army Corps of Engineers to deny permits for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal Bulk Dry Goods Shipping Facility. We also join with activists at BUF in requesting that the PNW District Board sign the August 2014 statement, “A Public Declaration to the Tribal Councils and Traditional Spiritual Leaders of the Native Peoples of the Northwest”, a document already signed by regional representatives of many religious organizations in the Pacific Northwest.

Our concern also responds to the web of human actions and relationships that has destabilized the climate systems of the entire planet. We are profoundly unsettled by the flood of corporate actions driving the world to use more and yet more carbon, particularly in the form of coal. We are further appalled and outraged that Lummi Nation is being cut out of the planning process in a way that resonates with the long history of colonial disregard for the dignity and wisdom of indigenous nations by the USA. We express our particular and profound grief that Lummi Nation and Lummi persons are maligned in the local press in Bellingham, and that commerce is moving once again against the dictates of spirit by ignoring the peoples with specific responsibilities to those lands and water, people who will carry many of the health, environmental, and spiritual burdens should this project prevail.

One among us has agreed to represent our committee to both Lummi Interfaith and to the Nawt-sa-maat Alliance, as well as in other venues relevant to this issue.

Our faith calls us to justice, compassion, and equity. Our congregation calls us to build deep connections as we search for meaning and inspire action towards a better world for all. It is in this spirit that the Climate Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis stands with Lummi Nation, as long as the river of our heartland runs.

Blessed be. May it be so.

Members of Climate Justice Committee

Letter prepared by Jesse Ford, Lay Minister and Susan Cristie, Climate Justice Committee Chair

In Solidarity with Original Nations and Peoples

In Solidarity with Original Nations and Peoples

[nivo effect=”fade” slices=”5″ animSpeed=”500″ pauseTime=”8000″ directionNav=”button_hover” controlNav=”true” width=”650″]

[image caption=’Group in front of the Lummi Nation Casino with local filmmaker and guide, Freddy Lane, front and center.’][/image]

[image caption=’Group attends lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Timothy Egan on the life of Edward Curtis, a photographer who spent 30 years working with First Nations to document their stories & images.’][/image]

[image caption=’Ralph Solomon shows the group a geoduck during a tour of the Lummi Shellfish Hatchery.’][/image]

[image caption=’Freddy Lane & Smitty Hillaire showing the Lummi traditional method of smoking salmon over a fire.’][/image]

[image caption=’Group says goodbye during a final evening worship in the yurt at Cedar Tree House.’][/image]



From April 25 – May 2, 2015, the UU College of Social Justice ran our first program focused on “Solidarity with Original Nations and Peoples” based in Bellingham, WA. Our group of 16 people from across the country learned about the history and current impacts of U.S. settler colonialism on this land’s original peoples, and the specific struggle of the Lummi Nation in Northwest Washington to protect Cherry Point, a sacred site threatened by a proposed coal terminal. If the terminal is approved, ships carrying over 48 million metric tons of coal to Asia annually would traverse the fragile Salish Sea and interfere with Lummi treaty fishing rights.

Our official partner for this program was the Lummi Nation Service Organization (LNSO). This program was possible based on the long-standing relationship of solidarity between the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship and the Lummi Nation. The work of this congregation serves as a model to others around the country seeking to pursue right relationship with First Nations whose land they inhabit.

Participants have expressed that they are seeing with new eyes as they return home, and they have many plans to stand with First Nations – not only in climate justice struggles, but whenever and wherever they are called to act.

Statements from participants of the “Solidarity with Original Nations and Peoples” Delegation:

I can’t find the words to adequately express the depth of my gratitude for having had the privilege to participate in six days of presentations by and about Lummi Nation. It was beyond gracious to host our large group at Lummi Gateway Center as well as the tribal headquarters, Lummi Youth Academy, Northwest Indian College and Coast Salish Institute.

It is one thing to read books and websites. It is another thing altogether to spend time with so many people in the places that hold deep historical and contemporary meaning, and understand directly from those affected how the structures of settler colonialism have pushed and ripped at Lummi wholeness. What I take away from this week is a profound respect for the resilience, resourcefulness, and administrative brilliance of generations of Lummi who continue to fight not just to survive but to thrive, to build for the future and honor the past in both traditional and contemporary ways. 

-Jesse Ford, Philomath, OR


I was privileged to be a part of the UUCSJ’s  “Building Lummi Solidarity” week.  This was a life-altering opportunity for me.  I was deeply impressed by the many passionate, compassionate, creative, connected and effective people we met with.  I was similarly impressed by the challenges they have overcome and yet still face.  Though I thought I was conscious of how colonization had brutalized indigenous peoples, my consciousness was widened to a much greater depth than I could have imagined.  Suffice to say its personal now. 

-Gary Piazzon, Coupeville, WA


I’ve always felt that something was missing in my work; a connection to local, indigenous tribes.  I believe that all of the current injustice issues in the US are rooted in the original offenses to First Nations, which was driven by the Doctrine of Discovery.  However, I have felt inadequate and ashamed to reach out to local tribes because I am a white woman of settler descent. After my experience visiting Lummi Nation and witnessing the work of their community, I feel encouraged to reach out to a local First Nation in Massachusetts that has been actively involved in fighting for justice, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.  The memories and lessons learned on this trip will fuel my work for many years to come.

-Laura Wagner, Marlborough, MA


As a retired teacher, I am committed to sharing facts about Native history – “Doctrine of Discovery”, the truth about boarding schools, broken treaties, fishing rights, and burial rights…and most importantly, the rights of Sovereignty!   I do not take this commitment lightly!

-Cherri Mann, Port Townsend, WA

I have tried to find the right words to describe all that I have gained from my week with the Lummi Nation.  My cup of new knowledge is absolutely running over. I will use the information our Lummi partners shared as my inspiration for action: to speak out against the Cherry Point port expansion and the coal trains through their lands, for curriculum reform in our Idaho schools so that the true Native American story is told, and for recognition of all treaty rights when they are threatened.  As my tribute to our Lummi partners, I will pledge to do my best to live up to the standards they have set for me.

-Pat Rathman, Moscow, ID