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Volume 13: 2012-2013

Senior Editor-In-Chief
Professor Christine Zuni-Cruz (Pueblo of Isleta/Ohkay Owingeh) (`82)

Managing Editor
Leah Stevens Block

Professional Article Editors
Ana Huerta
Dane Lauritzen

Student Article Editors
Samantha Azure (Ft. Peck Sioux)
LeeAnne Kane

Xavier Barraza (Hopland Band of Pomo Indians)
Leland Begay (White Mountain Apache)
Matthew Bernstein
Lucas Conley
Consuelo Gonzales
Tracy Goodluck (Oneida/Mvskoke Creek)
Brittany Hesbrook
Santee Lewis (Navajo Nation)
Keith Mier
Stephanie Salazar (Navajo Nation)
Brittany Sayer
Aaron Sims (Pueblo of Acoma)
Keegan Udall
Craig Williams (Mississippi Choctaw)


“Salmon People” in an Era of Depleting Salmon: The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community’s Climate Adaptation Action Plan as a Manifestation of Tribal Sovereignty

Kelly Davis

Climate change presents novel challenges to indigenous peoples striving to maintain their place-based subsistence cultures. Climate change is altering physical environments, tribes are experiencing detrimental impacts, and adaptation is necessary to preserve indigenous lifestyles. The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, a Coast Salish tribe in northwestern Washington State, has taken the initiative in tribal climate change adaptation efforts. In 2010, the Swinomish Office of Planning and Community Development issued a thorough Climate Adaptation Action Plan, which delineates strategies the vulnerable coastal, salmon-dependent tribe must take. Resilient social systems, like American Indian tribes, are capable of anticipating and planning for the future. As demonstrated through the Swinomish Climate Adaptation Action Plan, tribes that adapt on their own terms by incorporating traditional law and indigenous knowledge, voices, and rights in their progressive climate adaptation policies, do so as an exercise of tribal sovereignty.

This paper provides background on climate change, adaptation, and the detrimental impacts climate change will effectuate in the Pacific Northwest region. It then analyzes the chthonic legal tradition and the history of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in relation to the Climate Adaptation Action Plan. Finally, it explores the Climate Adaptation Action Plan and its inclusion of traditional ecological knowledge, public participation, and traditional treaty rights to fish as a manifestation of tribal sovereignty.

Soft-Voiced Warrior Song

Donald G. McIntntyre

Soft-Voiced Warrior Song is a mixed media construction. The piece started with a basic image of a man’s head, using black acrylic paint on a white canvas. This is to suggest that in the beginning things were, for the most part, black and white. The laws of engagement were simple.

It was essential to maintain harmony with one’s environment. Among the Anishinabek, to sustain this balance, the Soft-Voiced-Warrior-Song was employed; this was a way of recognizing your place within the environment to determine if diplomacy or war was the most likely to return unity.

Song was a method of listening to the surrounding to ensure the most effective method of preserving harmony and protecting one another when in times of war. With the coming of the European settlers, the harmony became more difficult. This new dimension to the story of engagement has been expressed by using coloured wax to the Warrior figure. Into the wax was carved the teachings. This shows the new depth of the relationship.

As it became impossible to follow the ever-changing rules of engagement with the West, the Warrior song became difficult to hear. Elders tried to remind us of the need to listen for the balance. To represent this, I carved into the wax the Anishinabe-mowin word for listen--bizindam (ᐱᓯᓐᑕᒻ).

Finally, I began to pour layers of resin over the wax image to indicate the story of the Vanishing Indian. The idea that we, as Aboriginal peoples have been dying out since 1850, and that our Indigenous rights crystallized around this same time, is represented by the hardened crystal resin.

However, between each layer of resin pour I have repainted the Warrior image. This symbolizes the continued emergence of the Indigenous peoples despite attempts to assimilate or eradicate us.