Book review of Winona Laduke’s All Our Relations: Native struggles for Land and Life

Chantel Greene

Blog #5 AIS 320


The book All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life by Winona Laduke, who is a member of the Mississippi Band of Anishinaabeg located on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, is a great testimony to the life and struggles of all indigenous peoples and tribes fight for our home lands.  This book explains in great detail and story of the invasive attitude and take over of tribal lands and the heart break and issues European conquest has caused.  Both life and land have been affected by greed and consumption resulting in environmental destruction.  Not able to leave well enough alone tearing down and destroying tribal lands and forever changing indigenous way of life through lies, misunderstanding, and manipulation to gain access to ownership of land that was once beautiful and self sustaining, European take over will cause environmental issues that are effecting the world for all.  Political, spiritual, and ecological transformation Laduke attempts to make difference in the world through words and persuasive accounts of the tragedies of indigenous people and sacred lands.  We are one with the Earth being beneath us, above us, and all around us we are what the Earth provides.  Explaining by creating environmental issues is like destroying and killing our relatives.  The animals, rock, plants, air, and water are like our relatives such as brother, sister, mother, father, aunties, uncles and taking care of Mother Earth is taking caring of our family and relations.  With our the Earth and what it provides what do we have?  The accounts in this book show what environmental  injustices have already been done, but with the resiliency of indigenous people and old way of life all is not lost and can hopefully  be restored.  Traditional Ecological Knowledge’s do exist and can help improve the state of environmental health.


Puget Sound Naval Shipyard *SUPERFUND SITE*

A superfund site is an uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems and people. Over the past 20 plus years, Superfund has located and analyzed tens of thousands of hazardous waste sites, protected people and the environment from contamination at the worst sites, and involved states, local communities, and other partners in cleanup. Superfund measures its cleanup accomplishments through various criteria including construction and post construction completions of hazardous waste sites. Located North shore of Sinclair Inlet, Bremerton, WA and governed by the Department of the Navy, sits a superfund sited. It is the Pacific Northwest’s largest naval shore facility and one of Washington state’s largest industrial installations. The superfund site is the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard was established in 1891 as a Naval Station and was designated Navy Yard Puget Sound in 1901. In 1990 the Navy authorized the Ship-Submarine Recycling Program (SRP) to recycle nuclear-powered ships at PSNS. Approximately 25 percent of the shipyard’s workload involves inactivation, reactor compartment disposal, and recycling of ships. The shipyard also contains a portion of the United States Navy reserve fleet, a large collection of inactive U.S. Navy vessels, including four aircraft carriers: the USS Independence (CV-62), the USS Constellation (CV-64), the USS Ranger (CV-61) and the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63). The ships are mothballed, meaning that they are stored in case they are needed by the Navy in the future. By housing all of these navel vessels has caused environmental impact such as soil, sediment and groundwater contamination by petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds(VOCs) and polychlorinated biphenyl(PCBs). Groundwater flows into the Sinclair Inlet where it is a hazard to tribal fishermen, marine life and recreational users.  Part of my reasoning for choosing to research this specific site is that it was the only site that I came acrossed that listed an impact to tribal people of the Northwest. Kitsap County is where the Puget Sound Navel Shipyard is located . As of the 2010 census, its population was 251,133. Its county seat is Port Orchard, and its largest city is Bremerton. The county was formed out of King County, Washington, and Jefferson County, Washington on January 16, 1857 and is named for Chief Kitsap of the Suquamish tribe. The Suquamish are a Lushootseed-speaking Native American tribe, located in present day Washington in the United States. They are a southern Coast Salish people. Today Suquamish people are enrolled in the federally recognized tribes, the Suquamish Indian Tribe of the Port Madison Reservation and the Swinomish Indians of the Swinomish Reservation of Washington. Like many Northwest Coast natives, the Suquamish relied on fishing from local rivers and Puget Sound for food. This sited has been on the National Priority List since May 10, 1993 and  is still going through the cleanup process. Many people are unaware of such sites that maybe affecting the environment near or around their homes and much should be done to educate society of the importance of cleaning up the environment.

Reference: List of Superfund sites in Washington (state)


What is the importance of managing the Nez Perce Tribes Water Resources?

What is the importance of managing the Nez Perce Tribe’s Water Resources? To manage the tribe’s water resources is to protect, develop, and restore the Nez Perce Tribe’s water quality in all aspects from surface and groundwater resources and watershed environments in the treaty-reserved homelands for the benefit, health, culture, and welfare of the tribe. Water quality and quantity have important cultural and economic significance for the Nez Perce Tribe. What is being done about managing the tribal water resources is having the Water Resources Division, which houses a number of different programs to address different facets of water management on the reservation. These programs deal with: Water Quality Assessment; Nonpoint Source Pollution control; Wetland Assessment; Brownfields Assessment; Leaking Underground Storage Tank Assessment; Hazardous Material Spill Response; and Utilities. There are many difficulties the Nez Perce Tribe has faced with maintaining the uses and legal rights to water ways as many tribes have on the West coast. The purpose of having a Water Resource Division is to provide a foundation for management of the water rights secured by the Treaties of 1855 and 1863, and for monitoring the quality of water resources vital to the long-term sustainability of the Nez Perce Tribe and its heirs.

The validity of long-term sustainability of the Nez Perce Tribe is why I have chosen this topic of managing water resources to write about. What I expect to discover in the course of my research, is the maintenance and progress the programs in place are having, what environmental impact climate change has had on the reservation, how the tribe is addressing environmental justice, and the hazards of lead in the environment, and how to utilize our water ways for true sustainability. During my research I hope to find how different acts such as the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and others help protect the tribe’s water ways from issues of companies and their mega loads from passing through reservation lands. The routes large companies want to take on Nez Perce land are heavy with campgrounds, rafting and fishing spots, historical sites and majestic scenery it draws tourists from around the world and follows the route taken by legendary explorers Meriweather Lewis and William Clark in 1805. A historical factor plays a large part of why protecting our water resources is important and carrying on our cultural and religious values is what drives our tribe to fight on. This topic will have a major impact that will serve a greater purpose.


American Indian Environmental Issue/AIS 320

           The American Indian environmental issue I have chosen to respond to are water rights or resources.  Water covers seventy one percent of the Earth with only three percent being fresh water, which is what we drink. The ninety seven percent of water is saline or salt water in the oceans and is undrinkable. This is why the three percent of drinkable water is so vital and the protection, preservation and conservation of it needs extra attention. Although water is a renewable resource people confuse this by thinking human action and disturbance will not affect waters renewability. People simply use the out of sight out of mind thinking when it comes to our resources. Fresh water is a renewable resource, but the world’s supply of groundwater is steadily decreasing, with depletion occurring most prominently in Asia and North America, where there is over population and over consumption occurring. Our sources of fresh water is heavily out weighed by the uses and stresses of water. Fresh water sources come from surface water, under river flow, ground water, desalinization, and frozen water which is held in glaciers and polar ice caps. Now you can see where human usage and stresses on water are affecting and out weighing our fresh water through; agriculture, industry, house hold use, recreational, and environmental uses. Some of the fresh water stresses are; population growth, expansion of business activity, rapid urbanization, climate change, depletion of aquifers, and pollution. These stressors are why this issue is the most important to me. Family tradition and culture has been past down from generation to generation of fishermen and woman. My family fishes not only for our family, but for our tribe as a whole. My family provides sustenance through salmon and provide food for families in need and the elderly. The protection of water rights and ecosystems are one in the same for my family tradition. Why do I believe it is a priority above other environmental issues?  Depletion of freshwater and climate change are becoming huge issues such that these issues are no longer out of sight out of mind.  The increase of natural disaster has shown that the affects of human over consumption, pollution, and disturbance is changing the world as we know it. Through tradition and cultural practice I have been taught to protect the balance of nature and the importance of the environment and all that it provides. The respect of Mother Earth and carrying ecocentrism that humans are equal with all living things and nature is a tool that should hold more value as traditional ecological knowledge. Examples of two Indian Nations that are dealing with this environmental issue are the Nez Perce and Swinomish among many other tribes as well. The Nez Perce Tribe has a great Natural Resources Department and Water Resources Department specifically for leading water resource matters and the vision of the Department of Natural Resource is to provide long-term cultural, social, political, and economic stability.


Title: Swinomish Study Social and Physical Impacts of Climate Change With EPA Grant

The topic of this article is climate change and using traditional ecological knowledge as the focus of their study. This study is to last three years and is funded by the  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Grant, which totals  $756,000. The tribe has invested 17 million in their natural resources and has taken into account the respect and love for their land by using what they know through TEK’s. “We’re protecting the universal resource rather than the tribal resource. We’re doing a lot more for the state and the county, and then in the end the tribe benefits by taking care of the whole.  The study will generate  and  help develop a model showing projected coastal erosion due to sea-level rise, storm surge, and wave energy through year 2100 on the shores of the Swinomish Reservation, plus map Swinomish coastal ecosystem habits’ vulnerability for first foods and culturally signifianct sites, support the Swinomis Climate Change Innitiative and create educational and outreach tools for the Swinomish. This article is reported by the ICTMN STAFF of Indian Country Today Media and is an article that supports growth and impacts tribes are helping to making on climate change. I see no biases in this article and it serves as a knowledgeable tool for others to learn, research, and follow from. There has been a surge of importance placed on climate change in the past couple years and also an importance of traditional ecological knowledge’s that Native Americans have practiced and fought to keep alive, but only to the impact of the economy has the rest of the world care for and is finally finding a lot more meaning to the practices of the first people. The Swinomish are doing a huge part and should be commended for their efforts in repairing the environmental healthy and showing that respect for all plays a huge role in Native American communities. Respect is huge and learning the concepts to use only what you need and returning all of what you can is what is being taught. Over consumption has had the most impact on the environment and changing the mind set of the rest of the world out of Indian Country has been difficult and will continue to be a factor. I found this article to be invaluable and learned that tribes are and will continue to make a difference on the environment and changing the attitude of others to fight for environmental justices for it benefits us all and future generations to come.