Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge & Spa. File photo

Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge & Spa. File photo

Snoqualmie Tribe concerned with unregulated air traffic at Snoqualmie Falls

Tribe urges federal regulators to introduce flight restrictions over sacred site.

The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe has appealed to the Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation and the FAA to uphold their trust obligation by introducing flight restrictions over sacred Snoqualmie Falls.

The sacred site, which is listed on the National Register as a Traditional Cultural Property has experienced a sharp increase in low altitude and unregulated air tours in the past year. Representatives from the tribe say air traffic is disrespectful, distracting and dangerous to residents and visitors to the Falls.

“The airspace above Snoqualmie Falls is being continuously violated by low-flying helicopter tours that infringe upon our right to enjoy our sacred site,” said Snoqualmie Indian Tribe Chairman Robert de los Angeles. “These private aviation companies are capitalizing our sacred site and violating our rights as Snoqualmie people to practice our cultural beliefs at the falls in peace. It is our obligation, as Snoqualmie people, to do everything we can to protect our sacred site from continued harm.”

Snoqualmie Falls lies on the Snoqualmie River within the Snoqualmie Tribe’s ancestral lands and is a sacred site central to the tribe’s creation story and religious practice, according to a tribe spokesperson. Tribal members have been holding religious and cultural ceremonies at the Falls since time immemorial. Preservation of the falls and the surrounding area is of the utmost importance, according to the tribe spokesperson, and in 2019 the Tribe purchased the Salish Lodge & Spa and adjacent acreage to stop what they call irresponsible development.

According to a statement from the tribe, since Spring 2020, the Snoqualmie Tribe has expressed its concerns to the helicopter tour operators that advertise flights above Snoqualmie Falls, including Atomic Helicopters and Helicopters Northwest. They say those concerns have been ignored. Now, the Tribe has urged United States governmental agencies to step in and develop ways to mitigate and abate ongoing harms to Snoqualmie Falls.

“We urge members of the public, including residents who live in the area, to report complaints to the FAA via their online complaint tool,” said Tribal Councilmember Christopher Castleberry in a written statement. “The Tribe recently made an appeal to the public through its Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement for individuals to file complaints with the FAA. “We need a solution that will protect the airspace above Snoqualmie Falls, similar to the airspace restrictions in place over National monuments. We need immediate action in order to ensure that the 2 million plus individuals who visit our sacred site each year are kept safe.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

File photo
Non-profit sponsors study on how the pandemic impacted arts and culture in Puget Sound

The study helped identify challenges faced by residents and cultural organizations in Washington

Photo of Boalch Avenue in North Bend, part of the Meadowbrook neighborhood. Courtesy of the City of North Bend
Six-month delay possible for Meadowbrook sewer project

The Meadowbrook Utility Local Improvement District (ULID) could face potential delays, as… Continue reading

File photo
WA lawmakers propose making companies responsible for recycling improvements

SB 5697 would compel industries to report data, invest in infrastructure, meet standards.

Governor Jay Inslee. Sound Publishing file photo
Inslee: Officials’ lies about election results should be crime

Governor wants lawmakers to pass legislation making it a gross misdemeanor.

Proposal for the new River Run Apartments in North Bend. Courtesy Photo
North Bend approves clearing for new apartments, affordable housing

North Bend has issued a clearing and grading permit for the new… Continue reading

Sarah Perry, King County Council
King County Councilmember Sarah Perry shares her priorities for Eastside

New District 3 King County Councilmember Sarah Perry has outlined behavioral health,… Continue reading

Screenshot
Issaquah and Bellevue police chase ends with stolen car in river

The two suspects have been arrested and are awaiting charges with King County.

File photo
County auditor finds agencies fall short on emergency services

The auditor’s office recommends clarifying responsibilities and accountability for effective planning.

Most Read