Protesters: Don’t develop on sacred tribal sites

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 8/16/17

Native American drum songs rang out from the front entrance of the Jefferson County Courthouse Aug. 14, as about two dozen native and nonnative protesters held signs and expressed their objections to …

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Protesters: Don’t develop on sacred tribal sites

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Native American drum songs rang out from the front entrance of the Jefferson County Courthouse Aug. 14, as about two dozen native and nonnative protesters held signs and expressed their objections to what they say is the potential destruction of Port Gamble S’Klallam tribal sacred sites by the Brinnon master planned resort.

Sonny Francis of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe led the chants and the prayers, even as he lamented busy schedules, which he blamed for the fact that more protesters didn’t show up.

“They were once a big tribe, with vast territory,” Francis said. “These sites need our protection, and that hasn’t always been able to happen in the past.”

Francis and his fellow protesters also expressed fears of further pollution in Hood Canal

Francis cited 12 action items identified by the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, none of which are under consideration by the county.

“None of those suggestions have been implemented,” Francis said. “The tribes were not consulted, nor were we given notice about the meeting with the county commissioners today.”

AFTERNOON BRIEFING

Jefferson County commissioners received a briefing on the master planned resort that afternoon from Patty Charnas, director of Jefferson County Department of Community Development (DCD), and Michelle Farfan, DCD associate planner, for what would be called the Pleasant Harbor Resort and is also known as the Brinnon master planned resort.

The master planned resort proposal has been in the works for close to a decade.

The site is located on Black Point, surrounded by the waters of Hood Canal on three sides. Proposed are 890 units, plus a golf course, on 250 acres.

Of special interest to protesters such as Terry DuBeau and Lois Barnett are the site’s geologic “kettles,” depressions in the ground created roughly 14,000 years ago by glaciers. The two largest kettles are 12 acres by 150 feet deep and 6 acres by 100 feet deep, they say.

“The developer has proposed that the largest 12-acre kettle be backfilled with a million cubic yards,” Barnett said. “There will be a pond created in the top, for a place to store runoff and treated sewage water.”

“These are sacred sites to the tribes, so it’d be like filling your church with sewage,” DuBeau said.

In a letter dated March 11, 2016, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe stated that the kettles meet the criteria for national historic listing, and that they have sacred value, as they are “inhabited by spiritual entities known to the S’Kallam Tribe.”

DuBeau, Barnett and Francis all voiced concerns about shellfish near the site, since tribal statistics report that approximately 140,000 pounds of shellfish are taken annually from within a mile of the site.

Given that both treated sewage water and golf course runoff are high in nutrients, Barnett and DuBeau warned that those nutrients would wind up in tidal zones and promote algal growth.

“And that’s to say nothing of the traffic impact on Highway 101, which is only a two-lane road,” DuBeau said. “The owners of the resort live in Canada, so they have no direct stake in this.”

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