In a letter in your November 9-15 issue, one of our community members voiced alarm about fishing they thought was unusual and shared concern that people were trying to “clean out the bay.”
I know most of us are eager to know each other’s backgrounds, histories and cultures since it promotes understanding of things going on around us, helping to eliminate the need for fearing one group or another.
For example, over the course of the 14 years I have lived in Birch Bay, I feel lucky to have learned many things about the people of Lummi Nation, largely because of their generosity and willingness to share their history and culture. They hold many events each year where they invite anyone in our community who would like to show up. Many times they prepare and freely serve those who attend a variety of delicious seafood and salmon from their catches.
They expend a lot of their resources to conduct research and take actions that preserve and protect the health of our local waters and the creatures that live in them. Their vigilance in this area contributes to conditions that can allow all those who love and depend on marine harvesting to benefit.
People with questions about fishing seasons, including those of our treaty tribes, can contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife which has a webpage dedicated to tribal fishing.
Those wanting to learn more about Lummi culture and their connection to our region can visit Children of the Setting Sun Productions, either on their webpage or on their YouTube channel. You will find many great creative videos offering insights into their community, their history as original residents of our area, the treaties that ensure their fishing rights, and into events they hold which I encourage folks to attend whenever possible.
I am writing in response to a letter to the editor in last week’s issue of The Northern Light. The writer asked why there is activity in Birch Bay by the Lummi Nation. Apparently they were there in surprising numbers crabbing. The writer stated, “This is a sudden, unexpected act of them which worries me to think what is going on.”
I will try to answer with my best understanding. I assume the Lummi Nation was simply exercising fishing rights guaranteed by treaty and federal court decisions, most notably the Boldt Decision of 1975.
I must say that I am happy to live in respect with the Lummi Nation on whose ancestral lands I now reside.
I was astonished to read that last week’s letter writer feels entitled to have a view at the cost of local indigenous peoples’ entitlement to earn a living. It would behoove this person to do some research regarding the 1975 Boldt Decision which was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1979 with regard to indigenous fishing rights. This person should also become acquainted with the regulations of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which determines locale and limits of fish harvesting.
On a positive note, perhaps the reason for so many fishing boats is due to the rebound of the fish population due to regulated fishing practices over the last 24 years.
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