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Challenges similar for Tribe, Carnation

CARNATION - The Snoqualmie Tribe and the city of Carnation sat down last week in an effort to re-establish ties between the Tribe and the city created in what was once its back yard.

At a special meeting of the Carnation City Council last Tuesday, the city formally recognized the Tribe as a sovereign nation and welcomed it to be a part of the decision-making process of the city.

Although the Tribe will hold no special powers, Carnation Mayor Bob Patterson said he wanted to invite the Tribe to work with his office, as he would any other group in the city.

"We wanted to get acquainted with the Snoqualmie Tribe," Patterson said.

The meeting came as the Snoqualmie Tribe is preparing to move to a new office in the city of Carnation this month. The 3,000-square-foot space on Tolt Avenue will serve as administrative offices for the Tribe. The Tribe's present office, a residence in Fall City, will be kept, but will be used mainly for health and human services.

Although the Tribe was recognized by the federal government in 1999 after a two-year legal dispute with the Tulalip Tribe, it is still struggling to get basic social and health services to its growing membership.

Patterson lamented that the city and the Tribe share many of the same problems, specifically health care and economic woes.

Carnation was informed earlier in the year that Evergreen Hospital Medical Center of Kirkland is going to close down its clinic in Carnation early next year in order to open a clinic in Duvall, which, unlike Carnation, is in Evergreen's taxing district.

"The loss of health services would be another nail in the coffin of a dying city," Patterson said.

Since Carnation falls into the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital District, Patterson said he is talking with it about getting services to his part of the Valley. But he is unsure of how soon it can help since the hospital district just reopened this year.

Patterson has also talked with Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue about the possibility of providing some services, but nothing has been worked out yet.

The Tribe explained that it, too, has been talking to the Overlake and Snoqualmie hospitals about health care. Snoqualmie Vice Chairwoman Mary Anne Hinzman explained there is a possibility of doctors from Overlake doing pro bono [free of charge] work.

Although the Tribe has plans for a casino in Snoqualmie, Tribal Councilman Ray Mullen said it is still looking for other ways to generate revenue. A restaurant that specializes in smoked salmon was mentioned as one way the Tribe could make some money in the Valley.

Patterson said the city's sewer problem, however, will delay any new construction for a while. Carnation is the only city in King County that does not have a sewer system, having passed up funding for one back in the 1970s when most rural cities in the county had them installed.

The lack of a sewer system makes new building costs prohibitive, since large amounts of land and materials are needed to put in the required septic systems. Appeals from the city to King County to have a sewer system installed have fallen on deaf ears since the city is outside of the urban growth area. But Patterson said the county has had a change of heart and he is hoping to get a confirmation on sewer services soon. Sewer services would not be up and running, though, until 2004 or 2005.

Patterson said Tribe participation will be helpful when trying to secure services for the area.

"The more organizations there are asking for these services, the better our chances of getting them," Patterson said.

Although there is a lot of work left to be done for both the city and the Tribe, both bodies agreed that the meeting and formal recognition had been a long time coming.

"I wanted to say what an honor it is to sit at the table with the Tribe," said Carnation City Councilwoman Laurie Clinton.

Many of the tribal members referred to Carnation by its original name, Tolt, and Mullen described setting up an office in Carnation as a kind of homecoming.

"It's an honor to be back," Mullen said. "We've known the Valley for quite a few years."

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