Resolution to reinstate the Chinook Indian Nation as a Federally recognized tribe by the Department of the Interior.
Whereas the Chinook Indian Nation became a Federally recognized tribe by the Department of Interior on January 3, 2001 after a 21-year process within the Office of Federal Acknowledgment.
Whereas the Chinook obtained federal status based on sound historical evidence and legal analysis that demonstrated their ongoing presence at the mouth of the Columbia River from time immemorial through the 19th and 20th centuries.
Whereas the Chinook Indian Nation made significant contributions to the exploration and early economy of the Pacific Northwest, from assisting with the historic journey of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to the Pacific Ocean in 1805-1806 to fur, food, and fuel procurement at Astoria, the first permanent American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains.
Whereas the United States subsequently recognized the Chinook Indian Nation’s tribes and bands in the Anson Dart (Tansy Point) Treaties of 1851, treaties that were not properly ratified by Congress.
Whereas the United States again recognized the Chinook Indian Nation’s tribes and bands during the Isaac Stevens (Chehalis River) Treaty negotiations of 1855.
Whereas the Chehalis River Treaty would have required the Chinook and others to abandon the lands of their ancestors and so was rejected by the Chinook tribes and bands as well as the Chehalis, and Cowlitz tribes.
Whereas because the United States failed to protect the Chinook people they were marginalized, relegated to occupying the most undesirable lands and generally the victims of racism and oppression within their own homeland on the Columbia River and adjacent seacoast.
Whereas in the Act of March 4, 1911 (36 Stat. 1345), Congress intended to provide restitution to the Chinook people in the form of allotments of land on existing Indian reservations, which the Supreme Court of the United States upheld in Halbert v. United States (283 U.S. 753 (1931).
Whereas Congress further recognized the Chinook people in 1912 by appropriated payments (S. Rep. No. 503, 62nd Cong., 2d Sess. 2,3) for each of the Chinook Indian Nation’s tribes and bands, including the Lower Chinook, the Wahkiakum, the Clatsop, the Cathlamet, and the Willapa in the exact amounts negotiated in the 1851 Anson Dart treaties.
Whereas this 1912 statute and appropriation passed both houses of Congress and provided part of the basis upon which President Clinton’s Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Kevin Gover, found a constructive ratification of the Chinook’s Tansy Point Treaties.
Whereas Congress further recognized the Chinook’s rights to land claims in the Act of February 12, 1925, and again under the Indian (Land) Claims Commission in 1958, identifying them as heirs to the Lower Chinook and Clatsop people under Docket 234, and affirming their right to sue for lands taken.
Whereas the Tribe was awarded a settlement in 1970 and has remained active on the Lower Columbia River and Willapa Bay in the vicinity of the reservation areas of the Tansy Point Treaties and is well-known to neighboring tribes and other communities.
Whereas all tribes associated with the Chehalis River Treaty are now federally recognized, except the Chinook, and federal status of the Chinook Indian Nation was removed 18 months after acknowledgement by an incoming administration without evidence, analysis, or acknowledgement of their long-standing presence, strong bond, and contributions to Northwest society and culture.
Whereas Chinook people have survived and maintained language and culture despite decades of neglect by the United States; and
Whereas the homeland of the Chinook Indian Nation is one of the most economically depressed areas in the region, and restoring Chinook federal recognition will bring much needed support to the economy, health care infrastructure, natural resources, housing needs and tourism.
Therefore be it resolved that the 18th Legislative District Democrats in solidarity with the Chinook Indian Nation request Congress act to restore Chinook recognition with all the rights and privileges originally granted to them under the acknowledgment of January 3, 2001.
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