Tulalip Natural Resources Treaty Rights Office works from multiple levels. While many problems facing salmon, wildlife, forests, shellfish and other culturally important natural resources are local or regional, other problems and their solutions come from national and international sources.
Climate change, for example, is caused by the cumulative impacts of emissions that are largely outside of tribal control. But the Tulalip Tribes is helping to reduce these emissions both by reducing reservation sources of greenhouse gases, and by policy and activism to reduce them such as by helping to close down the Gateway Pacific Terminal for coal at Cherry Point and opposing the TransMountain Pipeline Project proposed by Texas oil giant Kinder Morgan. The Tulalip Tribes has also participated in establishing core Federal funds to tribes nationally for responding to climate change impacts through adaptation actions, and used these funds for climate change planning for the Tulalip Tribes. Representatives of the Tulalip Tribes also sit on national councils and advisory bodies to advise the President and Cabinet heads, such as the Department of Agriculture, on policies for tribal adaptation to climate change. The Tulalip Tribes has also contributed to the development of guidelines for promoting the respectful use of traditional knowledge for adaptation while protecting tribal rights and cultural resources.
The Tulalip Tribes also participates in international processes, particularly at the United Nations. There are several reasons for this participation. The United Nations works through building agreements among sovereign nations. Most of these work on a voluntary basis, or “soft law,” in which nations agree to work towards meeting high level goals or principles, which occurred with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which recognized a number of collective human rights of indigenous peoples. These kinds of documents create an international climate that influences the behavior of nation states, and over time can lead to the establishment of international norms that can become binding international laws. A more direct route is through the establishment of binding treaties that require nations that endorse (“ratify) them to take certain actions “hard law). Another issue are those problems and solutions that must be solved internationally – such as the mass production of Coast Salish-like baskets in China. Good international laws and policies can help create a climate and bind the United States to actions that support tribal rights to cultural resources. Bad law and policy can interfere with the exercise of treaty rights, such as treaties regulating the protection of whales and migratory species. The Tulalip Tribes also works to influence analyses at the national and international levels to ensure that tribal perspectives and rights are included.
Among some of the places where the Tulalip Tribes works internationally are: