More than 95 acres of Samish Tribal lands in Skagit and San Juan counties will receive permanent protection if Congress passes a bill introduced by Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today. The Samish Indian Nation Homelands Act of 2013 would put the land, currently owned by the Samish Tribe, into federal trust for the tribe. Larsen introduced a version of the bill in 2012, but the House of Representatives did not take action on the bill.
"The permanent protection of this property will help the Samish Tribe continue to build a solid foundation for economic growth, preserve vital community services, and give tribal members certainty about the Tribe's future," Larsen said. "I look forward to working with the Samish Tribe and other local leaders to pass this bill to protect vital services and economic centers for the Samish Tribe."
The legislation has been endorsed by local leaders including the City of Anacortes Mayor and City Council, the San Juan County Council and the Skagit County Board of Commissioners.
"The Samish Indian Nation has worked hard to ensure that the future is bright for its people, including job opportunities for tribal members as well as for our neighboring communities," said Samish Indian Nation Chairman Tom Wooten. "Congressman Larsen has been a true partner in working with the Tribe to make this goal a reality. We deeply appreciate his reintroduction of the Samish Indian Nation Homelands Act, and we are committed to working with him and Congress to see it enacted into law in the 113th Congress. The Tribe also appreciates and acknowledges all our partners: the City of Anacortes, Skagit County, San Juan County, and the state of Washington for their collaboration on this bill and for their continuing friendship and collaboration. Together we can revitalize the area in a way that allows for all our next seven generations to grow and prosper."
The legislation would take 95 acres of Samish-owned land on five parcels and place them in federal trust to be used by the tribe for community and economic purposes. Those parcels include a Head Start and Early Learning Center and the tribal administration complex in Anacortes, as well as agricultural land and salmon habitat in Skagit County. The language of the bill prohibits gaming on the land once it is taken into trust. It does not affect the rights of other tribes, including hunting and fishing on any lands. A map of the affected land is available here.
"The City of Anacortes and the Samish Indian Nation have a long history of partnering on issues affecting both governing bodies," said Anacortes Mayor Dean Maxwell. "The City of Anacortes supports the Samish Indian Nation Homeland Act of 2013, which allows the Samish Indian Nation to convert five parcels into non-gaming trust status for housing, government and support services for the tribe."