At 7 pm on Friday, September 20, four Moscow conservation and activist groups are co-hosting a benefit concert at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, 420 East Second Street in Moscow, Idaho. The event seeks to raise appreciation, solidarity, and funds for the protest, travel, and legal efforts and expenses of arrested Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) anti-megaload activists. Starting at 6:30 pm after the weekly peace vigil, the Moscow Volunteer Peace Band will lead a parade, perhaps joined by Nimiipuu drummers, gathering participants from Friendship Square through downtown to the church. The festivities open with original, politically-charged music by Jeanne McHale and assorted singers, including megaload songs and an audience performance of the Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) anthem, The Tide is Rising. Nez Perce speakers will next describe their megaload resistance, and tribal drummers will share songs and chances to partake in round dances. The local bands Galactic Tofu Farmers and Undiscovered Country will play original Americana and folk rock music to activate hearts, minds, and feet until 11 pm. Throughout the evening, the co-sponsors will offer free snacks and inexpensive beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks provided by Mikey’s Greek Gyros and the Wine Company of Moscow. Wild Idaho Rising Tide, Friends of the Clearwater, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, and Palouse Group of the Sierra Club welcome everyone to contribute voluntary five dollar or more donations for admission and courageous, arrested Nimiipuu allies.
On Friday, September 13, in federal district court in Boise, Idaho, Judge B. Lynn Winmill granted the preliminary injunction requested by Idaho Rivers United and the Nez Perce Tribe, in a lawsuit argued by tribal and Advocates for the West attorneys. His memorandum decision and order mandates that the U.S. Forest Service close Highway 12 through the four-million-acre Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest and federally protected Lochsa/Middle Fork Clearwater Wild and Scenic River corridor in north central Idaho to all Omega Morgan-hauled megaloads of immense Alberta tar sands mining machinery, until the federal agency conducts and completes a broad review of megaload effects on the area, in consultation with the Nez Perce Tribe. Augmenting his February 2013 ruling, Judge Winmill agreed that the Forest Service had failed to enforce its authority and rules protecting the forest and river corridor and requiring tribal consultation, when it did not halt a 644,000-pound, 255-feet-long Omega Morgan megaload on Highway 12 in early August 2013. But like the 2012 Montana court decision demanding stronger environmental review of ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil tar sands equipment impacts on Montana highways, Judge Winmill’s ruling applies only to Omega Morgan transports. Another hauler, Contractors Cargo Company, wants to ship three massive oil refinery vessels from the Port of Lewiston to Great Falls, Montana, by November.
The Idaho Transportation Department issued a travel permit to Omega Morgan for the first of ten proposed wastewater evaporators on August 2, referring the Hillsboro, Oregon-based transport company to the Forest Service, and by extension the Nez Perce Tribe, for permission to use Highway 12. Omega Morgan disregarded this compliance measure and began transit on August 5. State, county, and tribal police arrested 28 Nimiipuu leaders and members protesting this first megaload since the February ruling over four August nights at the reservation boundary and throughout the reservation and river corridor. In passionate displays of tribal sovereignty and solidarity with other indigenous communities opposing tar sands exploitation, Nimiipuu residents and allies blockaded and delayed the Omega Morgan convoy, as they defended the natural, cultural, and intrinsic values of their homeland and their treaty rights to public lands and waters. As tribal and climate activists prepare for the eventual onslaught of another Omega Morgan and other oil company shipments pursuing passage on Highway 12, the 28 arrested demonstrators face arraignment on public nuisance infractions (unlawfully obstructing movement on a public highway) at 9 am on Friday, September 20, in Nez Perce Tribal Court, 149 Lolo Street in Lapwai. If convicted, eight accused Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee members may be forced by the tribe’s constitution to forfeit their posts for three years. Arrested Nimiipuu activists insist that the tribal court drop their charges, in consideration of Judge Winmill’s favorable decision, pertinent tribal and federal laws, and Omega Morgan’s defiance and trespasses.
As sacrifice zone citizens who have actively and physically contested all tar sands supply routes across the Northwest over the last three years, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and regional allies are honored to continue our frontline resistance and celebrate judicial victories with the Nimiipuu people. Before and beyond the upcoming arraignment hearing and benefit concert, WIRT is working to expand awareness and support of the arrested Nez Perce protesters, by participating in tribally-led megaload teach-ins and activist meetings, encouraging public attendance of the two September 20 events, compiling articles, videos, photos, and audio recordings of the Nez Perce protests on the WIRT website, and soon releasing a background story about on-the-ground Nez Perce resistance to the most recent Omega Morgan megaload. Please print and post the enclosed event flyer and come to the musical fundraiser at 7 pm on Friday, September 20, at the Unitarian Church in Moscow, to participate in this significant community opportunity to share earnest gratitude, respect, and encouragement of valiant Nez Perce megaload protesters. In honor of their early August uprising, please join WIRT and allies in supporting the bail, legal, and court fees of 28 courageous blockaders, with your generous donation through the WIRT WePay link, specifying “Nez Perce arrestees” and acknowledged soon by tribal recipients.