Samish Land in Skagit & San Juan Counties Would Receive Permanent Protection With Larsen Legislation

Mar 25, 2015 Issues: Tribes

WASHINGTON—About 97 acres of Samish Tribal lands in Skagit and San Juan counties would be permanently protected because of legislation that Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, has introduced. The Samish Indian Nation Land Conveyance Act of 2015 would put the land, currently owned by the Samish Tribe, into federal trust for the tribe.

“Permanently protecting these approximately 97 acres will help ensure the Samish Tribe can continue building a solid foundation for economic growth and preserve important community services for its members. Putting these lands into federal trust will give the Tribe more certainty about its future. The Samish Tribe and other local leaders are strong partners, and I look forward to working with them to get this bill passed,” Larsen said.

"The Samish Indian Nation is working hard to provide for our people to revitalize our communities while protecting our culture and traditions. Rep. Larsen has been a true partner in working with the Tribe to make this goal a reality. This Act would place a modest 97 acres of land into trust, including our tribal administrative complex, longhouse where our Head Start Center and Elders programs are located, and our elder/community garden. The Tribe already owns these lands and it would allow the Tribe to finally have a permanent land base that it has not had due to historical injustices. The Tribe has no plans to change the existing uses of these lands. This legislation contains a gaming prohibition as well as a provision specifying the bill would have no impacts on any tribe's treaty rights. The Tribe appreciates and acknowledges the relationship it shares with the City of Anacortes, Skagit County, San Juan County, our Representatives in the Washington Legislature, and the communities at large. We are thankful for their collaboration with us on this legislation and for their friendship and partnership,” said Samish Indian Nation Chairman Tom Wooten.

The legislation would take about 97 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.

Larsen introduced versions of the bill in 2012 and 2013, but Congress did not take action.

The legislation has been endorsed by local leaders including the City of Anacortes Mayor, the Skagit County Board of Commissioners, State Senator Kevin Ranker, and State Representatives Kristine Lytton and Jeff Morris.

“This bill will help the Samish Indian Nation preserve their culture, provide housing, health care, and education, and meet the many other needs of the Tribe’s citizens,” said Anacortes Mayor Laurie Gere.

###