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Lummi call for state Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Marilyn Burwell, a member at the Ferndale UCC, learned of a draft call for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for Washington state from Lummi Tribal member Shirley Williams, a registered nurse with the Indian Health Service.

Marilyn urges PNC members to read and share the draft call for a TRC commission with members of their congregations, their pastors, area tribes and legislators.

Shirley, who is co-founder of Whiteswan Environmental, worked with Senator John McCoy, (D) Tulalip, on a bill that passed the Legislature in 2015, mandating teaching Native American history and culture in all public schools.  She is again working with him on the TRC.

“The first step in this process will be to lobby the legislature,” Marilyn said. “Once formed and funded, a commission could gather testimony about past and present peace and justice problems,” said Marilyn. “The goal is to do something like what is currently happening in Canada—that is to listen and hear one another in order to compensate indigenous people both materially and spiritually for the faults of the past in order to clear a positive path for the future.”

Sen. McCoy will sponsor the call in the legislature, supported by Rep. Debra Lekanoff of Skagit and Whatcom counties, as well as by the tribes and their leadership.

The Call to Action issued on Sept. 30 and signed by 29 tribes, calls for mandating the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

An open letter to Washington State legislators presents the draft call for action, which states the following:

“The sovereign Tribes of Washington and non-government organizations urge the government body of Washington State including Natives in Washington Legislature, John McCoy (Tulalip), Deborah Lekanoff (Tlingit) and Natives in Congress, Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk) and Deborah Haaland’s (Laguna Pueblo) to launch Truth and Reconciliation.

“In the spirit of public participation, we ask you to join the State of Maine and Canada and begin the process to fully implement this global, consensus instrument of healing, protection and realization of the human rights of Indigenous peoples and nature. It is critical that the laws of Washington State align with principles that support the Declaration which meet the minimum global standards for the ‘survival, dignity and well-being’ of Indigenous peoples.

“We ask legislature to redress the legacy of the root cause(s) of trauma that have impacted our Indigenous peoples and advance proposed actions that will foster reconciliation.

“As inherent right holders, we have a sacred responsibility to protect our inherent birth rights to the land, water, life and democracy for our future generations. In efforts to mitigate the human and environmental disaster, it is critical that we move swiftly to found and enforce policy, education and cultural knowledge that is in alignment with the global and international framework for reconciliation at all levels and sectors.

“We ask the federal and state government and organizations to stand with us as we begin the process to acknowledge the past, the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the cause and action to change the behavior.

Copies of a petition are at

Contacts with tribal leaders are available are at

For information, text360-815-2409 or email


Copyright © Winter 2019-2020 Pacific NW United Church News


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