Duwamish Tribe recognition bill: What happens next

As previewed here last night, Seattle Congressmember Jim McDermott‘s bill proposing federal recognition for the Duwamish Tribe had a hearing today in the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. We watched much of the half-day hearing via live webcast and spoke later in the day with McDermott spokesperson Mike DeCesare. Our question for him, after the committee listened to testimony from supporters (including Duwamish Tribe chair Cecile Hansen, whose written testimony can be read here) and opponents — while also considering similar bids from other tribes including the Southwest Washington-based Chinook — was: Now what? DeCesare confirms that there’s no guarantee the committee will vote on the bill, but he emphasized – repeatedly – during our short phone conversation that it was a “huge” step simply for a hearing to be held; McDermott himself had said during the hearing that it was “a long time coming.” (The Duwamish were briefly recognized in the waning days of the Clinton Administration; then, as was recapped during today’s hearing, that was canceled early in the Bush Administration, with a procedural error cited – missing signatures on paperwork. The Duwamish are fighting that decision in court.) We haven’t yet found anyplace with a detailed report on today’s hearing, and the video is not yet archived on the committee website; here’s a list of the witnesses who were originally scheduled — we know from the portion we saw that there were others, such as one of McDermott’s fellow Washington Congressmembers, Jay Inslee, who provided one of two West Seattle references heard in the early going, when noting that his father had taught at Chief Sealth High School, named after the Duwamish’s legendary chief, chair Cecile Hansen’s great-great-grand-uncle and our city’s namesake. The other reference came from McDermott, who quoted a letter from Holy Family School students saying they were shocked to learn the Duwamish had to fight for recognition. A good portion of the hearing was spent discussing the federal requirements and procedures involved in gaining recognition, and a contention that the process was admittedly “broken” and would soon itself be the subject of legislation. Meantime, if you want to watch what happens to the Duwamish recognition bill, it is HR 2678.

6 Replies to "Duwamish Tribe recognition bill: What happens next"

  • marty July 16, 2009 (7:55 am)

    Great… Here comes another casino. Just what we don’t need.

  • Ron Richardson July 16, 2009 (10:13 am)

    Thanks to Representatives McDermott and Inslee for starting the process to bring long overdue recognition to the Duwamish. The story of Seattle begins with these people and we should support their efforts.

  • Chris July 16, 2009 (12:19 pm)

    I read once that the Duwamish are a branch of the larger Muckelshoot tribe. Is that right? Is this not just an effort to put a full sized casino inside the Seattle city limits?

  • Dana-Duwamish Tribal Member July 16, 2009 (12:48 pm)

    For our tribe to finally recieve recognition has nothing to do with casinos. It is about keeping thr treaty rights and promises that were in place and made many years ago, and NO the Duwamish Tribe is NOT a branch of the Muckleshoot Tribe, many Duwamish decendants had to enroll in the Muckleshoot Tribe in order to survive, because the Duwamish are not federally recognized. People that want to speak about the Duwamish people should do their homeowrk and know the facts before jumping to conclusions and saying things that are not true.

  • mike July 16, 2009 (8:26 pm)

    I hope they build a massive Casino with a huge smoke salmon and crab buffet. Put it in North Admiral so I can walk to it. I like cheap food and gambling.

    That’s for all you people yappin’ about Casino this and that.

  • Gary July 17, 2009 (1:08 am)

    Anything McDermott touches turns to sh*t.

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