Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney announced on Feb. 13 that the U.S. Secretary of Interior may continue to accept land into trust status for the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe.
The years-awaited decision resolves a challenge to the tribe’s federal status made by the city of Snoqualmie in 2015 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar.
“The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe is grateful for the Assistant Secretary’s decision that clears the way for the United States to once again take much needed land into trust for the tribe,” Chairman Robert de los Angeles said. “This is a major milestone, and it is fitting that it comes in the same year that the tribe is celebrating its 20th anniversary year of federal re-recognition.”
In Carcieri, the Supreme Court decided that the secretary may only take land into trust for tribes that were “under federal jurisdiction” in 1934 —the year the Indian Reorganization Act was enacted. The tribe can now follow the land-into-trust process for other property owned by the tribe because it was confirmed to be “under federal jurisdiction” in 1934. The determination ensures the tribe will be able to add to its reservation land base to meet its needs for future generations.
“We deeply appreciate the efforts of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of Interior officials,” de los Angeles said. “This has been a huge effort for more than four years involving current and past council members, and countless hours of work by dedicated tribal staff and our legal team at Kilpatrick Townsend. This is a great day.”
The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe is a federally recognized tribe in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. Known as the People of the Moon, Snoqualmie were signatories to the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855. For more information, go online to www.snoqualmietribe.us.