Published on Jun 14, 2021
After many hours of negotiation with leaders of the Washington State Legislature and Governor Inslee’s office and consultation with Tribal Nations in the state of Washington, advocacy groups, businesses, and many others, two historic measures to address the climate crisis recently become law. These measures are consistent with standing National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) policy on Climate Change, especially with respect to our position on the United Nation’s Declaration of Indigenous Peoples Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (UNDRIP-FPIC).
Washington Tribal Nations endorsed and worked hard for the adoption of this measure based on the assurance that they would be fully consulted on new projects related to this measure, especially those that might impact cultural, archeological, or sacred sites. Moreover, as the original people of the lands and waters that comprise Washington state, they won a clear acknowledgement that they should be at the table when these critical conversations take place as the bill passed the legislature.
The good faith negotiations leading to the adoption of this and other provisions took place with legislative leaders and directly with the Governor’s office. It was, therefore, disappointing to learn of the Governor’s surprise and last-minute veto of the tribal consent and consultation provisions.
We were further displeased to learn of the Governor’s recent response to a reporter’s question in which he implied the nationally elected president of NCAI, Fawn Sharp, is not a real leader. Those remarks suggest a division of leadership rank and legitimacy in Washington.
Tribal leaders are not divided. We support all leaders we elect at the national level, and we expect that they will be treated with respect.
We extend our support for the work of all Washington state tribal leaders who seek to resolve the issues raised by the Governor’s veto. NCAI’s policy as voted upon by the NCAI General Assembly of Tribal Nations (SAC-12-036), is congruent with the action of the Washington State legislature including the section that was vetoed.
Thus, we fully support a robust consultation process leading to the statewide adoption of a Free, Prior, and Informed Consent policy that protects the inherent civil and human rights of Tribal Nations, including their cultural, archeological, or sacred sites, and that recognizes the role Tribal Nations have held since time immemorial as stewards of the land, and that they continue to hold as they uphold the rights of future generations.
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