Quinaults will host timber conference

The Quinault Indian Nation will host the 42nd annual Indian Timber Symposium from June 4-7 — an event that brings tribes and participants from across the country to the Ocean Shores Convention Center and Quinault Beach Resort & Casino.

As one of the original founders of the Intertribal Timber Council (ITC) in 1976, the Quinault Nation will be hosting the symposium for the fourth time.

The Convention Center has the Symposium booked from Sunday, June 3, to Thursday June 7.

The timber council works with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, state and federal agencies, private industry and academia to “explore issues and identify practical strategies and initiatives to promote social, economic and ecological values while protecting and utilizing forests, soils, water and wildlife.” It also encourages the training and development of Indian foresters, with a large focus on youth education and resource sustainability.

“The Symposium provides an opportunity … to listen to presentations, discuss and provide recommendations that address issues relating to Indian Country as well as other natural resource community members,” said Don Motanic of the ITC.

Phil Rigdon, ITC president, testified about the organization’s goals before Congress last September: “We believe the nation would benefit by looking to Indian forestry as models of sustainability. We can help move the country forward to create a healthier, sustainable future for our forests and natural resources.”

During the symposium, participants will attend workshops that blend tradition with technology, such as creating cedar baskets and a field trip to the Quinault Nation forest. The issues during workshops will include “Fee to Trust,” the Project Learning Tree Hands-on-Youth activities, and “Future Fire-Where Are We Going?”

Quinault President Fawn Sharp is scheduled to give opening remarks to welcome participants on Tuesday morning, June 4.

Motanic said the Indian Timber Symposium will bring about 300 people to Ocean Shores for the event, with tribes from Florida to Alaska being represented along with a number of Northwest tribes.

“Over the past few years, we have had over 30 Native college students that attend the symposium and workshops now,” Motanic said. “Universities and tribes are bringing out their students.”

The event also raises money for scholarships that are awarded to students during the event, and the public is invited to participate in a raffle auction of some of the items on display, with proceeds going to the scholarships.

One of the main issues on Thursday during the symposium will be how to develop the workforce for the tribal timber industry of the future. Using the Project Learning Tree session, forestry personnel learn how to use prepared kits they can take back to their tribes to teach examples of practices.

With 60 member tribes now listed as members of the Intertribal Timber Council, the Quinault Nation joins the Warm Springs, Colville and Yakama as the original founding tribes that began the organization.

Motanic credits the organization with helping Congress to become more aware of sustainability issues, particularly related to issues of forest practices and fire danger.

“ITC has almost made an annual presentation to Congress just on how efficient the tribes are, and it’s brought about a beneficial partnership with the Forest Service, where the Forest Service can learn from the tribes and their management,” Motanic said.

One of the participants will be the Hancock Natural Resource Group, a Boston-based investment management company that last year agreed to a $313 million sale with the Muckelshoot Indian Tribe on thousands of acres of forest land in King, Pierce and Lewis counties. The tribe has said it plans to continue to use the land for timber production.

“They are going to be illustrating their unique partnership between the Muckleshoot tribe and their company,” Motanic said of the Hancock participants.

Members of the general public can stop by the Convention Center and visit the displays of items being raffled and see some of the exhibits.

“We encourage people to come in and see the booths we have and the different vendors,” Motanic said. “We have artworks and crafts there that people can actually submit a bid on.”