Cowlitz Country News - Archives - Nooksack
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January 2014

Nooksack: Disenrollment Demands Serious Attention by All Sovereign Nations - For most people, their sense of who they are—their identity—is at least partially defined from connection to others and to a community. When individuals are forced to sever those connections, the consequences can be devastating. Unfortunately, all too often in tribal disenrollment conflicts—like the one currently unfolding in northern Washington, where the Nooksack Indian Tribe is in the process of disenrolling 306 of its members—the fundamental issues revolve around individual and community identity.

Nooksack: Already imperiled Nooksack salmon now face a warmer world - The warmer, drier summers that will result from climate change could be the final straw for diminishing salmon populations in the south fork of the Nooksack River, according to officials developing a report on what needs to be done to keep the stream habitable.

December 2013

Nooksack: Sports bar in Nooksack casino to have a grand opening celebration - The Eddy Music & Sport Bar, which recently opened at Nooksack River Casino, is having a ribbon cutting and grand opening Friday, Oct. 25 at 5:30 p.m.

Nooksack: Murphy, Vargas roll to seats on Bellingham council - Roxanne Murphy, 37, is assistant administrator for the Nooksack Indian Tribe. She took a strong position against the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export facility proposed for Cherry Point, and reported about $13,000 in campaign contributions.

October 2013

Nooksack: Tribal Members March In Seattle To Protest Possible Disenrollment - A group gathered in downtown Seattle on Friday to protest the potential disenrollment of hundreds of Nooksack members from their tribe. If it goes forward, it would likely be the largest tribal disenrollment in Washington history. Toni Jones is one of the 306 Nooksack who would lose tribal membership if disenrollment goes forward. She joined about a hundred others as they marched from Pioneer Square to the tribe’s lawyer’s office building.

Nooksack: Disenrollment Is Bad for the Bottom Line - Disenrollment is a business matter. That’s because tribal governments abandoning members en masse will harm their own bottom line by engendering negative media and investor perceptions. More critically, they threaten the bottom line of Indian businesses everywhere. As such, Indian people and tribal governments across the country have an interest in seeing that ugly disenrollment fights like the one on the Nooksack Reservation in Washington State do not happen. They should act to protect that interest.

Nooksack: Tribal expulsion back on track for 300 Nooksacks - Just when it looked as though a move to expel 306 people from the Nooksack Indian Tribe might be delayed, the tribal appeals court has cleared the way for tribal officials to resume the expulsion process on all but six of the affected members. All of the people facing loss of membership are descended from Annie George, whose name does not appear on a key tribal census document.

Nooksack: River deal could set stage for shift of Bellingham water supply - The city is considering a new agreement that would enable it to pull water out of the Nooksack River in Lynden and Ferndale, instead of at the existing Middle Fork diversion site much farther upstream. Many berry farmers have been relying on water withdrawals from Nooksack tributary creeks to keep the fruit growing, but that practice is being challenged by the Lummi and Nooksack Indian tribes. The tribes say there isn't enough water left in the creeks to support healthy salmon populations, and the farmers themselves acknowledge that they don't have legal rights to some of the water they are using.

Nooksack: August primary features three-way race for Bellingham City Council - Allen Brown, Bob Burr and Roxanne Murphy are seeking a two-year term as the at-large representative on the seven-member Bellingham City Council. Murphy, a member of the Nooksack Indian Tribe and the tribe's assistant administrator, has lived in Bellingham about two years.

August 2013

Nooksack: Tribal voters approve tightening of membership rule - Nooksack Indian Tribe voters have approved a change in their constitution that will make it more difficult for people to enroll - or re-enroll - as members of the 2,000-member tribe. Re-enrollment is the key issue because tribal leaders are threatening to strip 306 people of their tribal membership due to alleged inadequacies in their Nooksack ancestry.

Nooksack: Tribal dispute heads to federal court - Seattle Attorney Gabriel Galanda filed the federal suit Monday, June 17, on behalf of Rudy St. Germain and Michelle Roberts, two tribal council members who are among the 306 who could be stripped of their tribal membership because the validity of their Nooksack lineage has been called into question. The suit declares that the move to purge the 306 is based on "racial animus," because all 306 are part-Filipino. That charge is hotly denied by Nooksack Tribal Chairman Bob Kelly and his supporters, who have noted that many other Nooksacks have Filipino ancestors but can demonstrate their Nooksack lineage in a way that meets the requirements of tribal law.

Nooksack: Tribal Member Pleads Guilty to Axe Murder on Lummi Reservation - An enrolled member of the Nooksack Tribe pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to second-degree murder, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. Levin Eugene Charles, 26, admitted that he killed Sauk-Suiattle Tribal member Kenneth Joseph by striking him in the head and face with an axe.

Nooksack: Roxanne Murphy seeks Bellingham Council seat to protect quality of life - I'm an eighth-generation member of the Nooksack Indian Tribe and I currently serve as an assistant administrator for my tribal government where I focus on supervising staff, shaping policies, supporting our tribal council and creating effective community outreach. I earned a bachelor's degree in communications from Central Washington University and a master's degree in public administration from Evergreen State College. I also have a stellar background in improving local government and organizations through my previous work for the City of Tacoma, the Woodland Park Zoo and the Weyerhaeuser Company.

June 2013

Nooksack: Tribe Seeks To Cut 15 Percent Of Members - What’s considered the largest proposed disenrollment of tribal members in Washington state is still moving forward, following a tribal court’s ruling this week. Leaders of the Nooksack Tribe near Bellingham aim to cut ties with 306 of its 2,000 members – that’s 15 percent of the tribe. Moreno Peralta is one of the members facing disenrollment. His grandmother was full Nooksack and he’s one-quarter.

Nooksack: Tribal judge refuses to block disenrollment of 306 Nooksacks - Nooksack Tribal Chief Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis has cleared the way for tribal officials to go ahead with plans to strip 306 people of their membership in the tribe, refusing to grant an injunction that would have blocked such a move.

May 2013

Nooksack: Whatcom County woman pleads guilty to raping boy - Paris Avery Olsen pleaded guilty to raping and sexually assaulting a middle school-aged boy.

Nooksack: Enrollment dispute has Nooksack tribe in turmoil - Questions of tribal identity are pitting friends and relatives against one another as the 2,000-strong Nooksack Indian Tribe waits for the tribal court to rule on a move to disenroll 306 members.

April 2013

Lummi-Nooksack: Tribes waiting for answer to key Whatcom water rights question - Local Indian tribes sought federal legal action to clarify critical Whatcom County water rights issues more than 18 months ago, but so far there has been no response.

Nooksack: Tribe In Membership Dispute - Nooksack tribal members who are of Nooksack and Filipino decent, including two council members, say they’re being expelled because of racism and politics. The group of 306 people filed a case this week in tribal court on grounds that tribal Council Chairman Bob Kelly wants them out because of anti-Filipino sentiment and a vendetta against certain families.

Nooksack: Racism Allegations and Sovereign Immunity Surface in Suit Against the Nooksack Tribe - The suit stems from an attempt by tribal leaders to disenroll 306 members--allegedly because they are part-Filipino."This is ethnic cleansing pure and simple," says Moreno Peralta, a spokesperson for the four plaintiffs and their relatives, in a statement to Seattle Weekly. "Our Chairman and his faction are trying to wash the Filipino blood out of the Nooksack Tribe.

Nooksack: Tribe faces fierce dispute over tribal membership - Four members of the Nooksack Indian Tribe have filed a lawsuit in tribal court hoping to overturn a tribal council action stripping them and 302 other people of tribal membership. If the council's Feb. 12, 2013, action stands, the tribe would lose about 15 percent of its membership, including two members of the current eight-member tribal council.

January 2013

Nooksack: Whatcom County groups receive $723,000 to help salmon - The Nooksack Indian Tribe and two organizations in Whatcom County received a total of $723,772 for salmon recovery efforts, the state Recreation and Conservation Office announced.

December 2012

Nooksack: Tribal member turns shoes into canvas for art - A penchant for creating Northwest native art on shoes has turned into a business opportunity for a Nooksack tribal member. Louie Gong recently launched a website for Mockups, which resemble white Vans-style shoes that customers use to paint intricate designs. For design tips, examples of work done from the kits, more about the company or to order a kit, go to

November 2012

Nooksack: Tribe, banks settle casino loan dispute - The Nooksack Indian Tribe has reached an out-of-court settlement with a group of unnamed banks in a federal lawsuit stemming from millions of dollars in unpaid loans that were used to develop the tribe's two casinos. Terms of the settlement have not been disclosed in court records. Tribal Chairman Bob Kelly and attorneys for the tribe and the banks have not responded to requests for comment.

October 2012

Nooksack: Multi-talented Native Rehab Counselor Takes Work to Washington State Traumatic Brain Injury Council - Tammy Cooper-Woodrich—Nooksack storyteller, vocational rehabilitation counselor, former Nooksack Tribal Council member, former Northwest Indian College trustee—has been appointed by Gov. Christine Gregoire to the Washington State Traumatic Brain Injury Council.

August 2012

Nooksack: Tribe's unpaid casino loans fuel complex court battle - The Nooksack Indian Tribe is locked in a high-stakes legal battle with the banks that provided about $39 million in loans to finance the tribe's two casinos. Both the tribe and the lenders are playing hardball in courtroom maneuvering that may do little more than set the stage for a negotiated settlement.

February 2012

Nooksack: County students, Nooksack Tribe member, honored for achievements - Louie Gong, a Nooksack Tribe member and a Seattle artist, will travel to Germany in March as a guest of the U.S. embassy. His "Art and Identity" workshops, which use the process of personalizing canvas shoes as a gateway to discussing identity and race, will be presented in Leipzig, Nuremberg, Frankfurt, and Berlin during Europe's International Week Against Racism.

Nooksack: Coal Hard Truth forum panelists and their bios - Attend a Coal Hard Truth forum to ask questions about North America's largest coal shipping terminal that could be built just 10 miles northeast of San Juan County along the Strait of Georgia. Panelists to answer you questions include North Sound Baykeeper Matt Krogh, Fred Felleman with Friends of the Earth, and Dr. Frank James. James is the health/medical officer for San Juan County and for the Nooksack Indian Nation.

January 2012

Lummi-Nooksack: BBWSD manager calls for local solution to tribal water rights issue - With two local native tribes seeking a federal determination on possession of local water rights, the general manager of the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District (BBWSD) is calling for a solution from within Whatcom County. Earlier in January, representatives from the Nooksack and Lummi tribes sent letters to the U.S. Department of the Interior requesting a federal court decision over what water rights the tribes have within the state. The tribes say six years of negotiations over the extent of their water rights have stalled, and they are asking the Department of the Interior to take the state of Washington to court over the issue.

Lummi-Nooksack: Tribes seek federal suit to resolve long-simmering Nooksack River water rights issue - Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Indian Tribe are seeking federal court intervention to settle Nooksack River water rights issues that affect both the city of Bellingham's water supply and the availability of irrigation water in parts of Whatcom County. Both tribes have sent letters to the U.S. Department of the Interior asking the federal agency to file a lawsuit against the state of Washington. The tribes want a federal judge to spell out the extent of their water rights.

Lummi-Nooksack: Tribes seek federal support to resolve Nooksack basin water rights conflict - Six years of multi-party water rights negotiations in the Nooksack basin of Whatcom County have been suspended while the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Indian Tribe seek federal support to quantify their water rights. At issue is how much water should remain in various reaches and streams of the Nooksack River, and how much should be available for other uses. The tribes have asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to file a lawsuit that will result in a declaration of their treaty-reserved water rights and protection of those rights.

December 2011

Nooksack: Tribe, Whatcom Land Trust get $1.5M for salmon protection in Nooksack River - The office's Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded the tribe nearly $1.13 million in three separate grants to improve conditions in the north and south forks of the Nooksack River. The money will pay for artificial log jams designed to improve areas where salmon grow, rest or spawn.

Nooksack: CCA North Sound Chapter to award state and tribal enforcement officers for their net retrieval efforts - Officer Ryan Valentine with state Fish and Wildlife and Officer Brad Washington of the Nooksack Tribe will receive the first annual "Conservation Steward Award" from the North Sound Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association.

Nooksack: Whatcom Museum event features American Indian art, stories, craft-making - Tammy Cooper-Woodrich, a traditional Nooksack storyteller, will share several traditional tales at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, in the Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher galleries.


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