Lower Elwha Klallam tribe earns environmental award; presentation set later this month in Seattle

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The Lower Elwha Klallam tribe has earned a statewide award for its environmental education and sustainability.

The tribe will receive the E3 Washington President’s Award at a ceremony June 26 in Seattle, the nonprofit environmental education group announced.

E3 Washington, which integrates education, environment and economy, has been the “professional home for environmental and sustainability educators since 1990,” Executive Director Abby Ruskey said in a
news release.

“The E3 Washington Lead Green goal is that every place, be it a building or other site becomes a ‘learning laboratory’ for the shift to sustainability,” E3 Washington Board President Tom Hulst said.

“In the case of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, multiple sites under its management meet this goal.”

Lower Elwha Klallam tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles was not immediately available for comment Monday.

The tribe was nominated for one of three E3 Green Apple Awards by retired teacher Marie Marrs of Port Angeles.

In a Monday telephone interview, Marrs said she nominated the tribe mainly for its commitment to the Elwha River restoration protect.

“They were the first to file a complaint and ask that the dams be taken out,” Marrs said, referring to the removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, a process that began in 2011 with work at the Elwha dam and continues to the present with the ongoing removal of the Glines Canyon dam.

“They have worked so hard for this. It’s sacred ground for them. It’s their spiritual ties, it’s their economic ties, it’s their cultural ties.

“They’ve done so much to getting the dams out and restore the ecosystem.”

Along with gaining respect for treaty rights, the tribe honors the wisdom of its elders while teaching self-respect to youth, Marrs wrote in her nomination letter, excerpts of which were provided by E3 Washington.

“The annual paddle journeys, alcohol and drug free, are strong signs of cultural revival,” Marrs wrote.

“The Klallam language is taught at local high schools, as a foreign language. Tribal leaders are visible, and honored, at many community events. Native youth are enrolled in natural resource programs at the area skill center, as well as Peninsula College, acquiring specials skills and internships with local economic and environmental power bases such as Battelle, Olympic National Park, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Merrill & Ring, the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and the Feiro Marine Science Center, as well as their own natural resource/fisheries programs.”

Other recipients of the Green Apple Awards are Quinault tribal President Fawn Sharp and state Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip.

Late Nisqually elder Billy Frank Jr., longtime chairman of the Northwest Fisheries Commission and an E3 Washington honorary co-chair, will also be honored at the ceremony at the McKinstry Innovation Center in Seattle.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 16. 2014 6:22PM
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