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Trashing Tribal Lands

John Simpson | United States

How Ironic: Where is the American pride here in the using of tribal lands for dumping?

Tribal lands are being trashed.

It starts small and then grows big.  From the discarding of a piece of paper or cigarette butt, it soon grows to be a bottle or a bag of garbage.  For some, this habit leads to the illegal dumping of building materials, automobiles and household items.

Any one of a number of reasons results in illegal dumping - economic necessity, cultural entitlement, and/or racism.

For the Nisqually Tribe, located in Washington State, sections of its 5100-acre reservation are routinely used as dump sites.

For thousands of years, the Nisqually Tribe inhabited over two million acres on the southern end of Puget Sound.  In 1854, the Nisqually were relocated to 1,280 acres on what is now called The Nisqually Reservation.  Over time, the Tribe has reacquired just over 3,500 acres.  With this growth came the trashing of their land.

There are no individuals pictured in this exhibit - only their deliberate actions toward the Nisqually Tribe's culture and heritage are in view.

For about nine months I walked a portion of the Nisqually Tribe's reservation lands.  In so doing, I noted the growing instances of the wanton illegal dumping by those who entered by night to leave behind household goods, contstruction materials, garbage, clothing and automobiles.

I contacted the Nisqually Tribal Council to inform it about this situation.  I continue to work with the Council in addressing this blight on their land.

On the scale of problems facing America, illegal dumping is not a priority; there appears to be little to no concern expressed about the desecration of tribal lands, to say nothing about a small Tribe like the Nisqually.

This nation needs to be held to account on this issue.  For me not to document through photography this ecological and cultural travesty is to be complicit in the act of trashing all tribal lands.

John Simpson


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