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Native Groups, Environmentalists Rally To 'Protect Our Salish Sea'

Courtesy of James Leder
/ Idle No More Washington

Flanked by Puget Sound on one side and railroad tracks on the other, dozens of people gathered at Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park on Monday to bring attention to protecting the Salish Sea — the waters of Puget Sound, Georgia Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 

The coalition of environmental groups and Native Americans voiced their opposition to the increased traffic in coal- and oil trains, as well as the proposed coal terminals that would be built in Longview and on the Great Lummi Nation’s sacred burial ground.

Credit James Leder / Idle No More Washington
Idle No More Washington
Participants begin the rally with a traditional Northwest Coastal canoe landing to Olympic Sculpture Park's beach on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014.

“It’s for not just for us, but for future generations," said Sweetwater Nannauck, organizer of Idle No More Washington, about the event. "We want to get the message out." 

Idle No More Washington, Backbone Campaign, Protect the Sacred and 350 Seattle coordinated Monday's rally.

Michael Evans, chairman of the Snohomish Tribe of Indians, said they came together to raise awareness about the need to protect the waters from plans to create a fossil fuel corridor to Asia.

“And water is one of the first things to go. There are some indicator species like some of the fish, and we’ve already noticed that some of the fish are starting to die," he said. "If the fish can’t live in the fresh water, neither can man, and man is not far behind. So we really need to pay attention to what we are doing to ourselves and to the land, and it all affects the Salish Sea.”

Credit James Leder / Idle No More Washington
Idle No More Washington
Rally attendees take part in a symbolic blockade of the BNSF Railway at Alaskan and Broad Street on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014.

The environmental groups and Native Americans are not alone in opposing the increase in coal- and oil train traffic. Both Seattle and King County have been raising their concerns after an oil train derailed last month in Seattle. Although nothing spilled and there were no fatalities, it happened beneath a busy bridge in Magnolia.

King County held its first-ever disaster response exercise for an oil train derailment last week.  

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