From Colleen McCrory, Co-editor…
I have spent a lot of time this week sorting through conflicting thoughts and feelings about the dinner on the Lummi reservation last Monday night. Being invited to dinner by the Lummis was an honor, and I looked forward to an evening of sharing between our communities, as did the almost 200 other islanders that accepted the Lummi’s gracious invitation.
I looked forward to sitting down to dinner with our Lummi neighbors and getting to know each other a little better.
I went with the expectation that our communities would sort through traffic congestion and safety concerns, and try to find creative approaches to these problems together.
I envisioned an evening of respectful listening that would nurture our awareness of how the ferry affects our respective communities.
I expected that we would honor each other’s point of view, and that we would explore everything from how to keep ferry lines from blocking fishing boats, to how we can help make the Lummi marina a reality, as well as how to insure that our island community survives.
Okay, I was overly optimistic. But even if only a small part of my hopes and expectations were realized, I would have been encouraged.
As it was, the evening was frustrating and disappointing. For the most part, we ate only with each other. We were not invited to speak, nor to respond to Mr. Jefferson’s remarks, or power point lecture. Our questions were bunched together, paraphrased and answered in vague terms. One of our Native islanders asked that we be allowed time to respond, as is tribal custom, but it didn’t happen. We did not mutually explore ways to lessen the impact of ferry traffic on the Lummi Nation. We were not able to speak to the extreme hardship that hundreds of islanders will face if they are forced to abandon their island homes to move to mainland Whatcom county for everything from jobs to gas.
Islanders value maintaining a friendly and respectful relationship with our Lummi Nation neighbors. If the majority of Lummis do not see any mutually beneficial aspects to having our ferry dock at Gooseberry Point, then we need to find a way to go elsewhere. This will take a lot of time and a lot of money. These are hard times and money is tight, but that won’t always be the case (there goes that optimism again). Given enough time we can find a viable alternative site, do the environmental studies, get the permits, find the money to pay for a new boat– and a new dock, build the boat– and the dock–.and move! I expect it could take up to 25 years to get all this done. Perhaps if that expectation is clearly written into a new lease, it would make a difference in the negotiations.
I believed the tribal representatives that met with us at our school last year when they told us they wanted to be good neighbors. We want to be good neighbors as well. Right now many in our community are being forced to consider abandoning their homes. Think about that.
Good neighbors would not be a party to something like this. Yes, it is about the money, but it is also about so much more.