October 11, 1999
FALL CITY--The Snoqualmie Tribe, once the largest in the Puget Sound area, learned last week it has been granted tribal status from the federal government.
The decision means the tribe has overcome two years of legal challenges by the Tulalips of Marysville. In 1997, after the Snoqualmies were given tribal status, the Tulalips appealed. One of their issues was whether the Boldt decision was in conflict with the 1997 granting of tribal status to the Snoqualmies.
In 1979, U.S. District Court Judge George Boldt gave 14 Indian tribes the right to fish for salmon, allowing them up to 50 percent of the fish. Each recognized tribe has the right to fish in their areas and are given a voice in managing the fisheries. The Snoqualmies were not included, since they were not considered a tribe.
Snoqualmie Chief Patkanim, however, was one of the signers of the Point Elliott Treaty in 1855, which gave all their land from Snoqualmie Pass to Everett to the whites. In turn, they were promised a reservation, but instead were granted only a temporary reservation in Tulalip. The tribe has struggled in legal limbo since then.
Some members of the tribe did move to Tulalip, but others continued to stay in the Snoqualmie Valley, establishing a tribal office in Redmond, then in Carnation. The tribe recently moved to new quarters on the Preston-Fall City Road.
On August 22, 1997, tribal members were ecstatic to hear that the tribe had achieved official status. But at the same time, they began readying for an expected appeal by the Tulalips.
Tribal elder and historian Leona Eddy noted shortly after the decision that the tribe planned to work on obtaining land for the members. Eddy made several trips to Washington, D.C. over the years to discuss the tribal situation with government officials and study the archives.
"The Tulalips want to fight this recognition," she said. "But they have always known we are a tribe." Eddy died several months after that interview.
After the 1997 designation of tribal status, people began to bring in their paperwork so they could be enrolled in the tribe. The tribe requires applicants to prove they are one-eighth Snoqualmie.
After the decision last week, the phone in the tribe's headquarters "began ringing off the wall," said Mary Anne Hinzman, vice chairman of the Snoqualmie Tribal Council. "We expect a lot more people to enroll in the tribe."
She said that this week, tribal members will be meeting with Bill Black of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to discuss the tribe's constitution and bylaws and to discuss enrollment and funding to "get a better perspective on what is coming next."
Hinzman said the Tulalips have one more opportunity to appeal. But in the meantime, the Snoqualmie tribe is planning a big celebration.
"It was such a great day when word came in," she said. "When they broke the news, I was overwhelmed with relief."