In a special meeting at Chief Leschi Schools on Dec. 10, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians’ governing Tribal Council unanimously passed an 18-point resolution that declares a climate emergency.
Held before the student body in the school’s Four Seasons Gym, the meeting covered the five-page resolution that outlines the Tribe’s goals to address climate change.
After an opening blessing from Elder Connie McCloud and remarks from each present member of the Tribal Council, Chairman David Z. Bean led a motion to pass the resolution, which was affirmed unanimously by the council.
“You have just witnessed history,” declared Bean after the passing of the resolution, a statement met with enthusiastic applause. “This resolution is for the youth of today and for future generations. Each and every one of you are our future.”
The passing of the resolution cements actions that the Tribe has been implementing into law, with specific goals and timelines to meet. The document establishes “a goal to transition existing fossil fuel facilities to non-fossil fuel source by 2035,” and puts into writing a commitment to “a just transition to a carbon neutral economy by 2050.”
“We will be implementing the resolution immediately, but it will take time to meet those goals,” said Tribal Council Member Annette Bryan. “I hope we meet our goals way before 2035.”
“It’s important to be realistic with our goal-setting and to take careful steps forward,” added Bean.
Other points of the resolution include establishing a Sustainability Manager position that will oversee the resolution’s implementation, the exploration of carbon offset opportunities, the expansion of the tribal Air Quality Monitoring program, and an ongoing commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.
The Tribal Council has been working on drafting the resolution since September, Bryan said, when the global climate strike took place.
“After the climate strike, we thought, ‘We need to put it in writing and put our words into action,’” Bryan said.
Council members emphasized that the resolution shows a commitment to protecting the planet for the Tribe’s youth and for the generations not yet born, which is why the special meeting was held before Chief Leschi students of all ages.
“It’s important that all of our kids and grandkids have something that we have protected,” said Tribal Council Member Sylvia Miller. “That’s what we’re here to do: to protect and preserve.”
“Our children are our future,” added Bean. “We have a responsibility to honor our ancestors and elders — the sacrifices they made — to ensure that there is a tomorrow for our children.”
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians is an independent sovereign nation governed by the Puyallup Tribal Council, which hopes that the passing of the resolution will encourage other local governments to take similar actions toward a greener future. Yesterday evening, Tacoma City Council followed the Puyallup Tribe in declaring a climate emergency.