The Lummi Nation opposes an attempted purchase of the site, known by Lummi people since time immemorial as Xwe’chi’eXen.
BP’s interest in purchasing the site came as a surprise when the oil company presented it to Lummi for the first time earlier this month as a transaction that would be complete by the end of 2023.
The 1,100-acre parcel has been under threat by corporations for decades.
In 2016, Lummi Nation won a nearly five-year battle against SSA Marine and the effort resulted in the landscape and seascape at Xwe’chi’eXen being recognized as a Tribal Cultural Property by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which permits development. The site, which is listed as a cemetery, is the first recognized archaeological site in Whatcom County.
“For thousands of years, and continuing to this day, our people have lived here, fished here, gathered plants here, raised families here, and buried loved ones here,” said Lummi Nation Chairman Anthony Hillaire. “The connection the Lummi Nation has to this place is beyond archeological significance. We have a sacred obligation to protect our lands and our ancestors, the ancient ones who rest here. We also have a moral and legal obligation to protect our rights. We have opposed, and will continue to oppose, the development of Xwe’chi’eXen because of the unavoidable and unacceptable impacts it would have on our people and on our treaty fishing rights.”
Earlier this month, Lummi Nation wrote to Whatcom County Planning and Development to express opposition to Phillips 66’s proposed renewable diesel refinery at Xwe’chi’eXen.
That project, Lummi Natural Resources Department said, would disrupt treaty-reserved fishing with vessel traffic and the potential for spills.