A tribal leader in Washington state is raising concerns about oil spills after a train derailment along a bay on the Swinomish Reservation this week.
Crews on Thursday were cleaning up oil spilled on land from the BNSF train.
The Washington Department of Ecology first reported about 5,000 gallons of diesel leaked.
Federal officials estimate about 2,500.
Chairman Tom Wooten of the nearby Samish Nation released a statement saying safety is a priority and thankfully no one was injured.
But Wooten says the spill signals a larger infrastructure issue, adding there needs to be a priority on evaluating infrastructure hauling hazardous materials.
He says there also needs to be a weaning away from fossil fuels for preservation of Native lands.
In a statement to KOMO News, Swinomish Chairman Steve Edwards said he was grateful to first responders and various agencies working on the spill.
Edwards says they’ll continue to do everything they can to protect the waters and natural resources, and ensure public safety.
The Swinomish Nation has sued the BNSF Railway in the past over oil train shipments.
The derailment is under investigation.
Federal officials will spend $25 million to restore and conserve bison herds on tribal lands.
The Mountain West News Bureau’s Will Walkey has more.
Tens of millions of bison once roamed North America. But the species was hunted to near extinction in the late 1800s.
Today, wild bison number in the tens of thousands nationwide, including about 20,000 managed by tribes.
Jason Baldes works for the National Wildlife Federation and lives on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.
He says this recent announcement is a step in the right direction.
“They’re a keystone species, so that should be reason enough to restore them to the landscape because it benefits the grasses, the birds, the insects.”
He says herds also provide food and maintain the cultural identity of tribes.
The money comes from the Inflation Reduction Act and will go towards building new herds and transferring more bison from federal to tribal lands.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says officials also need to tap into Indigenous knowledge more to keep preserving one of the most iconic animals in the American West.
A new book explores the legal history of the Oneida Nation’s fight to protect its sovereignty.
Lina Tran of station WUWM reports.
For years, the Oneida Nation faced challenges to its sovereignty from Hobart, a village on the eastern half of the reservation, just outside Green Bay, WI.
Disputes ranged from garbage collection to police jurisdiction and roads.
“They constantly and regularly tried to tell the Oneida Nation how it should be going about its business.”
Rebecca Webster is an Oneida citizen who served on the tribe’s legal team. Now, she’s an assistant professor in American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Webster shares the history of these legal battles in her book In Defense of Sovereignty.
The biggest clash involved Hobart’s attempt to force the tribe to obtain permits for its Big Apple Fest.
“Hobart’s main arguments throughout all of this litigation is, they’re really challenging that the Oneida Nation isn’t a legitimate government.”
Ultimately, the tribe prevailed, when a federal appeals court ruled in its favor in July 2020.
Webster says Hobart’s tactics were part of a wider effort to upend tribal sovereignty, from the anti-Indigenous group Citizens for Equal Rights Alliance.
“This isn’t just happening here in Oneida, this is happening in other places. We need to continue that network of tribes talking to each other. Because we know this is something we just, we need to stay on top of, and we need to stay vigilant.”
Webster hopes her book sheds light on the issue for other tribes.
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