WA BHA statement on Tribal Consultation
The following testimony was given at the January 26th, 2024 Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission:
"Good Morning Chair, Director and Commissioners. My name is Dan Wilson. I’m the co-chair and speaking today on behalf of Washington Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.
I do not presume that Tribal perspectives will always align with our membership. But I do know that proactively seeking their feedback and knowledge makes us and our stewardship efforts better.
It also demonstrates basic respect for sovereign nations- who asked to be heard for months, and in your silence, are now demanding it.
For all your authority, professional knowledge and resources, the way you‘ve positioned and represented our state could be comical in its absurdity, instead it's tragically offensive.
Ethnocentric statements yesterday included paternalistic expectations on how Tribes need to comport themselves for your comfort, or be held to your preconceived timelines. Words and intentions matter,and it's past time to act accordingly here, at least when it comes to tribes.
Who fought hardest for Caribou and labor for their return? Reintroduced bison and antelope? Secures millions upon millions in salmon recovery funds? Translocates lynx? Who’s cultural burning knowledge makes us fire resilient?
The answers should make you excited for this opportunity, eager for more dialogue and closer relations. But there’s also a simple historical truth that should drive your next steps: Eurocentric conservation has always come with tradeoffs, often unfairly burdened on the original stewards of this land. The least you can do right now is engage these partners transparently, intentionally, proactively, and in good faith.
Embrace this opportunity as more than a hollow veneer of performative consideration. You must respond to the gravity of this situation and the actions that brought you here, or your leadership will be yet another disgraceful chapter of governmental engagement with Tribal nations, detrimental to our shared wildlife and lands. Thank you for your time."