Snoqualmie Falls in summer. Natalie DeFord/Staff photo

Snoqualmie Falls in summer. Natalie DeFord/Staff photo

Snoqualmie Tribe acquires Salish Lodge, property

$125 million paid for traditional land from Muckleshoot. Lodge development plans now canceled.

Ownership of the Salish Lodge and Spa and the land surrounding Snoqualmie Falls has officially been transferred from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe to the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe as of Oct. 31. In the $125 million transaction, the Snoqualmie Tribe acquired about 45 acres of land in its traditional territory.

This news comes as the Snoqualmie Tribe also celebrates the 20th anniversary of its Oct. 6, 1999, federal re-recognition, which they received after decades of petitioning.

“This purchase represents the Snoqualmie Tribe’s ongoing work to reclaim its traditional lands and will allow the Snoqualmie people to appropriately care for our sacred falls and share it with all who wish to experience the powerful connection,” Snoqualmie Tribal Chairman Robert de los Angeles said in a press release. “We are incredibly grateful to the Muckleshoot Tribe for their willingness to partner in our goal of protecting and preserving this sacred area.”

As a historic and sacred site to the Snoqualmie Tribe, the preservation of Snoqualmie Falls and adjacent land is a top priority for the Tribe, the press release noted.

“Snoqualmie Falls is a sacred place and a globally beloved landmark, and the Salish Lodge is an iconic Northwest institution,” de los Angeles said. “We look forward to enriching the experience for lodge guests by sharing the Tribe’s story, meaning, and history of the falls and the Snoqualmie people who have cared for it since time immemorial.”

The purchase includes the property north of and across state Route 202, plus the Salish Lodge and Spa and the Snoqualmie Falls gift shop. The Snoqualmie Tribe will continue operating the lodge and its expected services with Columbia Hospitality, Inc.

The agreement with the Muckleshoot Tribe stems from negotiations and discussions between the two tribes.

“It is a great feeling when tribes can come together to further enhance both of their organizations,” said Jaison Elkins, Muckleshoot tribal chairman. “Salish Lodge is a premier resort in the Pacific Northwest. Knowing that its ownership will remain local with our neighbor tribe is a positive for the region and all Indian country. This sale is a prime example of Indian Self Determination and how tribal nations can conduct business in a culturally sensitive way. The Muckleshoot Tribe plans to focus on new facilities and services for our tribal members and customers.”

Snoqualmie tribal officials said a development previously approved by the city of Snoqualmie will no longer take place. The planned development would have desecrated ancestral burial grounds of the Snoqualmie Tribe.

The former proposed development was undertaken by the Muckleshoot Tribe, which had proposed building up to 210 single family housing units, a 182 room hotel and a large restaurant and bar. This caused contention between the two tribes, as well as between the Snoqualmie Tribe and the city.

However, Snoqualmie Tribal Council vice chair Michael Ross disagreed with that characterization.

“As closely related tribes we have family and shared history in between us and the Muckleshoot Tribe and our relationship will remain pretty much the same,” Ross said.

Ross also said in an interview on Friday that the land would be protected from development. There have also been discussions with Puget Sound Energy, which owns a dam above the falls, about the river’s flow.

Moving forward, Ross looks forward to continuing to be a party in the valley and to find synergy between the city and other residents.

“There is no site on earth that’s more sacred or important to the Snoqualmie people than the Snoqualmie falls,” Ross said.

Updated 4:15 p.m.

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