The Lummi Nation of northwest Washington has been fighting the Gateway Pacific coal export terminal for several years.

The terminal would have the capacity to handle up to 54 million metric tons of coal per day-all of which would be hauled through North Idaho and eastern Washington to the West Coast and the proposed terminal at Cherry Point, near Bellingham, Wash.

For the past three years, the Lummi Nation’s House of Tears Carvers have crafted a special totem pole and hauled it along the route of the coal exports, stopping in communities along the way to raise awareness about the risk to their way of life-and the risks to communities along the route-if a giant coal terminal is built in their traditional fishing grounds.

For the 2016 tour, they will begin in Bellingham and end in Winnipeg, Manitoba Province of Canada. On the way, on Sunday, Aug 28, they’ll stop in Sandpoint for a blessing ceremony at City Beach. This is the first time the Lummis and their master carver Jewell James have brought one of their special totem poles to Sandpoint, a town currently in the crosshairs of fossil fuel trafficking by rail.

In addition to the Gateway Pacific Terminal, Sandpoint and North Idaho could also be affected by another 44-million-ton capacity coal terminal-the Millennium Bulk Terminals facility proposed for Longview, Wash. An environmental impact statement (EIS) on that project is expected to be released Friday, and a hearing is already scheduled for May 26 in Spokane.

Meanwhile, the Lummi’s efforts may soon pay off. This week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to decide whether or not to continue with an EIS on the Gateway Pacific Terminal. The tribe has argued that the terminal would interfere with their fishing rights, an argument the U.S. Army Corps has to consider.

If all goes well this week, we hope to be celebrating with the Lummi Tribe on Aug 28, when they stop through Sandpoint with their ceremonial totem pole.

We also invite you to join us May 12, for a showing of Our Sacred Obligation, an hour-long documentary of the 2014 Totem Pole Journey, at the Little Panida Theater. After the movie, we’ll share information about the proposed Longview coal export terminal, the upcoming hearing on May 26, and how you can help put the brakes on coal exports in the Northwest!