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Snoqualmie gain recognition

Last Wednesday, Oct. 6, approximately 1,000 members of

the Snoqualmie tribe learned that, once again, they were a nation in the

eyes of the Federal government.

The word _ delivered by John D. Leshy of the Department of Interior

_ came after the government rejected the Tulalip tribe's challenge of

the Snoqualmie's status. As a recognized tribe, the Snoqualmie are now

granted status of a sovereign nation and are eligible for federal dollars for

health care, education, social services, housing and tribal-government purposes.

The government's announcement culminates over 140 years of

efforts to resolve the tribe's status. At one time, one of the largest and most

powerful nations in the Puget Sound, the Snoqualmie have effectively been

disenfranchised since the signing of the Point Elliott Treaty of Jan. 22,

1855. On that date, Chief Pat Kanim - along with 81 other chiefs, including

Chief Sealth and representatives of the Duwamish, Suquamish,

Snohomish, Stillaguamish, Swinomish, Skagit, Lummi and other tribes _ signed

over their lands in the presence of Washington Territorial Governor

Isaac Stevens.

At the time of the signing, the Snoqualmie numbered over 4,000

and occupied 14 villages in the Valley. However, with the signing of the

treaty and the influx of settlers from the United States, the tribe quickly

dispersed, with many of its members eventually taking up residency in

the Tulalip Reservation near Marysville.

Others _ led by Chief Jerry Kanim, nephew of Chief Pat Kanim and

the last lineal leader of his nation - remained in their ancestral lands in

the Snoqualmie Valley. In November 1919, Chief Kanim formally

requested a return of the lands promised in 1855. In 1937, the Bureau of

Indian Affairs proposed the establishment of a 10,240-acre reservation

for the Snoqualmie near Carnation on the Tolt River. The proposal fell by

the boards during World War II, and in January 1953, the government

formally ended recognition of the Snoqualmie. Chief Kanim died

in 1956.

In the mid-1970s, the Snoqualmie and several other tribes again

asked for federal recognition. Four nations _ the Nooksacks, Upper

Skagits, Sauk-Suiattles and Stillaguamishes _ received the requested status from

the government, while federal courts turned down the Snoqualmie,

Samish, Snohomish, Duwamish and Steilacoom tribes.

Recognition for the Snoqualmie finally came on Aug. 22, 1997,

at which point the Tulalip tribe filed suit, claiming they were the true

successors of the Snoqualmie tribe. Tulalip leaders pointed out that the majority of

the Snoqualmie were relocated to their reservation following the 1855

treaty. They also stressed the Snoqualmie currently living in their historic

valley do not possess a reservation, and are therefore not qualified for

independent tribal status.

The Department of the Interior disagreed, setting off celebrations at

the Snoqualmie Tribal Offices in Carnation and other locations,

including their sacred Snoqualmie Falls.

Tribal members understand there is a long road ahead, including

another possible legal challenge by the Tulalips. A particular problem

will come in securing federal grants, as the tribe does not possess a land base.

However, according to tribal secretary Arlene Ventura, everyone

is upbeat and "still kind of in awe."

"Everybody is kind of overwhelmed here with all kinds of

phone calls offering congratulations, people offering to help," she

commented Monday.

"It's exciting. We do have some office formalities to go through, but

I think we're going to _ hopefully some time in November _ bring it to

our membership, and see where they want to go. We have a semi-annual

meeting; it will probably be a houseful this time."

Whatever comes next for the Snoqualmie people, the future at

the moment looks bright and filled with pride.

Many seasons ago, the Ancient Ones lived in this Valley called Snoqualmie.

An Ancient one named Earth Maiden married Star

Warrior of the night, and moved away.

Heavy with child, she became homesick and returned to her people

in the Valley.

Upon this news the Dog Salmon people plotted. After the birth of

the Earth Maiden's child, they stole him away to be raised in their land.

After coming of age, he was given a special power; he became

"Transformer," or the "Changer." He vowed to return to his natural home.

Upon arriving, he realized that the land had yielded little for the

descendents of the Ancient Ones. So, with his power, he changed

everything. Transformer said, "You are my people and your children will

have the `sdo-kwal-biuh' (Snoqualmie) name forever."

- An abbreviated version of the Snoqualmie's creation story, last

printed in the Snoqualmie Valley Record, Aug. 28, 1997.

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