I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Suquamish Tribe files suit against Bangor Explosives Handling Wharf

The Suquamish Tribe has filed its own lawsuit against the Navy's Second Explosives Handling Wharf project planned for the Bangor Trident base.  It is quite likey that they Judge will combine this case with the case filed by Glen Milner of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.  The following is an opinion piece in the Kitsap Sun by Leonard Forsman, Chairman of the Suquamish Tribal Council.

Kitsap Sun, MY TURN
Navy left tribe no choice but a lawsuit
By Leonard Forsman. Posted August 29, 2012

In 1855, led by Chief Seattle, Suquamish Tribal leaders signed the Treaty of Point Elliot. The treaty ceded most of the Suquamish Tribe's lands in exchange for the acknowledgment and protection of our fishing and hunting rights, health care, education and a reservation at Port Madison.

Since that time, the Suquamish Tribe has maintained our cultural identity and kept our traditions. We've also been consistent in continuing to value and pursue the priorities that we established — and which the U.S. government made a commitment to protecting — in the treaty we signed in 1855.

Today, with over 1,100 people employed in its government operations and business ventures, the Suquamish Tribe is one of the largest employers in Kitsap County. The purpose of the Tribe's investments is to support government functions that assist the community. These investments — in law enforcement, natural resource management, education, health care, and community development — are designed to have a positive economic and social impact on both Tribal members and non-Tribal members alike. We take our role as good neighbor seriously.

That's why it has been so disappointing for us to have our requests to have our treaty rights honored by the U.S. government rejected while the United States seeks to build a massive new explosives handling wharf at Bangor, within the adjudicated usual and accustomed fishing grounds of the Suquamish and four other tribes.

The Tribe's treaty right is a property right under federal law and cannot be taken away without specific congressional authority. If Congress authorizes a treaty right to be taken, that loss must be compensated for under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The Suquamish Tribe has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Navy, the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect its treaty rights, fish habitat and several endangered species. The suit asks the court to set aside permits and decisions for the proposed Bangor Explosives Handling Wharf project. The construction of the 6.3-acre over-water wharf is a "taking" under federal law and will violate the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, the United States Constitution, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

The proposed project will increase the Navy's over-water facilities by almost 25 percent and will eliminate access to fishing grounds associated with the over-water facilities. Not only will the project permanently disrupt salmon and other species migration patterns, but noise from its construction will injure at least seven species of fish, including several listed as "endangered" or "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.

Over the last two years and in at least a dozen meetings, representatives of the Suquamish Tribal Council met with the Navy and the Army Corps of Engineers in an attempt to ensure that the Tribe's treaty rights and impacts to the environment were adequately protected and mitigated. Although the Suquamish Tribe made great compromises in an attempt to reach an agreement on the project, the Navy and the Army Corps offered little to no corresponding compromise.

The Suquamish Tribe has reached agreement with the Navy at other naval installations to protect its treaty rights and the environment, while at the same time balancing economic and military needs in support of national defense and our veterans. The Tribe also recognizes the local economic benefits this project will bring to Kitsap County. However, the Navy's decision to continue this project without an agreement with the Suquamish Tribe and the Army Corps' approval of the Navy's in-water construction permits is contrary to federal law and is in direct conflict with the Department of Defense's trust responsibility to honor Indian treaties and protect the trust resources of the Indian tribes of this nation.

Unfortunately, because of the actions of the U.S. government, the Tribe has no other recourse than to seek a remedy in federal district court.
© 2012 Kitsap Sun. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source URL: http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2012/aug/29/my-turn-navy-left-tribe-no-choice-but-a-lawsuit/#ixzz25MhvN1X6

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