Hundreds of Native Americans march to protest coal trains

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by LOR MATSUKAWA / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 21 at 6:31 PM

SEATTLE -- Two-hundred Native Americans and their supporters marched through Seattle during Thursday night’s rush hour to protest proposed coal trains that would pass through the city on their way  to a shipping terminal planned to be built near Bellingham.

The group called "Idle No More" represented several tribes who support the Lummi Nation, which opposes the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal because they say it would hurt the environment.

"There's wind energy, there's solar enegy, there's tidal energy," said one of the event organizers, Olivia One Feather of the Standing Rock Nation. "Now is the time to come together and brainstorm on what we can do to move past coal."

The group rallied at Westlake Park before following a police escort to the headquarters of SSA Marine on Harbor Island. SSA Marine is the terminal's developer. Senior Vice President Bob Waters said the company respects the right of people to express their opinions. He said the $700,000 project is undergoing a "vigorous" environmental study co-lead by the Washington State Dept. of Ecology, Whatcom County and the Army Corps of Engineers. He said construction is easily "a couple years out."

As the participants played drums and sang songs of healing, Shania Belgarde, a senior member of the Chippewa Nation, clapped along.  Her message to government leaders: "I'd just like them to listen to us, the Native Americans.  We need our land."

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