Way xast xil xalt (Hello Good Day)
First of all, I am honored to serve as Chairman of our Tribes, the 12 Tribes of Colville! I will do my best.
To start with the recent fires we have on our Reservation, we had to act fast. We are fortunate to have, in my opinion, one of the best WildFire Initial Attack Crews. They go way beyond the call to duty in the safest way they can. They are highly trained with experienced leadership. In addition, I want to personally thank all the First Responders who saved so many homes. Some of these First Responders come from neighboring towns. Together with our Fire Control, response efforts happened very fast!
The morning after the fire started, I received a call from Governor Jay Inslee. The next evening, I got a call from Representative Dan Newhouse and Senator Patty Murray’s Staffer. We also had a visit from Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz. I was asked what our critical resource needs were. Our Tribes’ Natural Resources Director Cody Desautel and our Mount Tolman Fire Control Director, Ike Cawston, relayed the need for air support and ground crews.
We had six fires on the Reservation at that time. For the Chuweah Creek fire, a Type 2 Team was ordered. We were notified of a new fire on Central Peak shortly after that. The Summit Trail Fire started growing, and again another Type 2 Team was ordered, Team 10 from California. The team was set up in Inchelium.
This week, we had another thunder and lightning storm that started over ten new fires. The two more extensive fires on Whitmore and Hamilton Ridge required another Type 2 team. Resources are very competitive due to all the other fires in the Region on the west side of the United States. They base the priority on values at risk and probabilities of success.
We have Tribal Members who lost homes. We are working on helping them. Many thanks to everyone who has helped these people. We have a contact for monetary donations. Billy Nicholson is the contact (509)634-2857. For other items, Brian Nanamkin is the contact (509)634-2845. Please ask what types of items they will accept.
Many of you know Governor Jay Inslee came here. We talked about the need for more fire fighting resources, training funds, and how the Fires have caused losses to half of our Forest lands. In addition we talked about the effects of Global Warming and how it affects us more than any other. Our peoples gather our roots and berries. We hunt and fish for subsistence. The Salmon will not swim up the Okanogan River because the water temperature is too warm. Water temperatures affect how many Salmon we will have returning in 3 to 4 years.
Governor Inslee met with President Biden and four other Governors shortly after meeting with our Tribal Council about the need for more resources to help fight and prevent Wildfires. We need to replant our Forest to the shady sides of our mountains. The Snowpacks will bring clean cold water to the rivers. We have to do this work for our future generations. Council will be lobbying on bills in both the Federal and State Legislatures that support Wildfire Resources. Our Tribe has also invited the Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland, to visit the Colville Reservation. There are several issues that need more resources to bring back healthy forests.
We must all remember COVID-19 is still here wear your masks if you are among strangers to protect our youth who can not get Vaccinated. Talk to your Families about getting vaccinated. Doing so will save lives and help prevent the spread of the COVID Virus! Stay Safe!
Way leem lemt (Thank You)
Andrew C. Joseph Jr.