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By Trevino 

Questioning our forestry practices - native ethics vs. tribal drive

Letter to the Editor


Human beings and nature exist on the same moral plane. An eco-centric world view, should be regarded as a precondition for an aesthetic and ethical appreciation and love of our (yours and mine) environment. Self-determination is a foundational principle in the world’s eye. American education is the total laziness towards taking into consideration anything, or anyone, besides yourself. Law and forestry are good examples.

In law, the historical construct of our country through Manifest Destiny is mismatched so that cultural relationship held by any other race or gender remains discounted. Forestry takes into account only that information needed to grow a tree as fast as possible, nothing more. Design in isolation, impose that design onto something like the membrane on which life proliferates. The new design is actually invisible. The cost comes in our oxygen, solar energy, self-replication. I have empathy for the oppressed, thus I am closely linked to ecology. In human relations, race, and gender can be oppressed. In my life experiences I have witnessed between races and nations the ethical principles of the non-natives’ imperialist drive to exploit, and the absence of an essential ingredient — ecology.

Ecology … forests, rivers, lakes and streams, springs — they have no legal rights, and they are looked at as property. The sub-system equals Economy, but it’s geared for growth; as it grows it displaces on the biosphere. Seventeen trillion dollars is what all the industries made in one year, for example; 32 trillion dollars is what the system of nature brought in for a year. So, you can see that the system of nature hugely out performs industry. Why is it valued so little? The crisis is money: where is the money going? Government is where the failure is; it has fallen into disrepair.

We, the tribes, have forested land that can no longer provide a forest after we applied our forestry applications to the land. What is that going to become? What will take up the water those trees did, how will the removal of trees affect the behavior of water? Water rushing downstream, hurting communities, as we recently experienced with the failure of Omak Lake Road, Wannacut Creek flooding affecting Omak homes, the SanPoil River destroying Silver Creek Road by Alice Flats, making transportation difficult and dangerous.

We should remember the power language has. Recall, if you will, language of treaties or presidential proclamations: as long as the Sun shines, and the Rivers Flow…. Harmony between people and nature. Beyond just being geared for growth, we hold the responsibility to future generations to correct the actions of a corporate few who make the decisions that trump the majority.

The ethical principles of the native people of the Colville Tribes are up against the imperialist drive to maintain not one, but now two timber mills after the most destructive fire ever on the Colville reservation. There has been the rush to salvage log our North Star and Tunk Block burned areas (12 homes lost). The total amount of the tribes’ commercial timber lost equals 802 million board feet, worth $96 million, created by industry, not nature. If nature was valued, the output would dwarf $96 million.

“What good does it do to leave a tree standing in the woods?” asks Colville Business Council Natural Resource Committee Chair Joe Somday.

Our stories are maps larger than can be held. That is how knowledge is passed on from one generation to the next. Self-determination is our right, you and I, not that of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ silviculturist, nor the Colville Business Council. You and I are the ones who choose. It is you and I who hold that responsibility — to ourselves, and one another and, most of all, to those yet to come. They are not disposable humanity. Let us come to know what nature already knows, that knowledge told on a scale larger than can be held by our hands.

Lois M. Trevino

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