Legal Challenge Seeks to Overturn Tribal Compacts and Massively Expand Non-Tribal Gaming
On January 11, 2022, Maverick Gaming, a gambling company rooted in Las Vegas that has purchased 19 neighborhood card rooms in Washington State, filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C. that seeks to overturn gaming compacts that Washington’s tribes have carefully negotiated with the State of Washington over three decades. Maverick intends to massively expand non-tribal gambling in our neighborhoods and communities, even if that means subverting the federal law that established tribal gaming, overturning the will of a bipartisan supermajority of the legislature, nullifying regulatory decisions at multiple levels of government, and ignoring clear public opposition.
Maverick’s legal action comes after they have failed multiple times to convince the legislature to go along with their gambling expansion schemes. If successful, this lawsuit would cause irreparable harm to historically marginalized tribal communities and the general public. Our tribal gaming compacts have been repeatedly vetted by state and federal regulators. These compacts are fully aligned with the provisions of federal tribal gaming law, and Washington State’s tribes stand united in opposing any attempt like this to undermine tribal compacts and what the tribes have worked so hard to build.
‘Twas the Season for Charitable Giving
It’s known as the “season of giving” for a reason—30 percent of nonprofit giving happens during December alone. While Tribes don’t limit their charitable giving to this time of year—many do make notable contributions during giving season. 2021 was no exception. Here are a few of the many Tribal government gifts that made 2021 brighter for communities and organizations across the state:
The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians’ 2021 donations included $300,000 to the Stanwood Camano Food Bank. (Photo credit: The Lynnwood Times)
The Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation donated $10,000 to support Raise for Rowyn, a Tenino-based nonprofit that provides funding and support for people facing the death of a child. A post on Raise for Rowyn’s facebook page reads, “Wow. The Chehalis Tribe has done it again! Thank you for supporting us all these years and helping us be there for our Angel Families. We couldn’t do this work without amazing community partners like you.”
The Cowlitz Indian Tribe donated nearly $200,000 to several Clark County organizations. $57,000 went to the LaCamas Elementary School parent association in support of their efforts to provide quality education and foster a spirit of community. Another $50,000 went to the Lower Columbia College Foundation. Share Vancouver received $50,000 in support of its food security programs. Santa’s Posse, an organization that partners with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to collect and distribute toys and food during the holidays, received a $30,000 donation. And The Ridgefield Lions Club received $10,000 to support their community service work.
The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians donated $300,000 each to the Arlington and Stanwood Camano food banks. The Tribe also donated $90,000 to A Christmas Wish, a volunteer-led program that provides holiday gifts to Arlington families in need.
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe donated $25,000 to the Sequim City Band’s “Fund the Finale” capital campaign to build an extended rehearsal space. Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Chairman W. Ron Allen, quoted in the Sequim Gazette, said, “The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is honored to contribute $25,000 to this very important Sequim project. Our Tribe values and supports events and programs that reflect our community’s unique cultural treasures and artistic expressions.”
People weren’t the only ones to receive support from a Tribe this winter. The Nisqually Indian Tribe’s Kalama Creek Hatchery donated about 50 adult salmon to Northwest Trek in Eatonville, where they were enjoyed by eagles, bears, river otters, cougars, and other animals who live in the park. The salmon weren’t just a treat for the animals, they also provided the opportunity for students from nearby colleges to learn about a salmon’s life cycle and the critical role salmon play in our environment. You can learn more about this partnership in an excellent piece on the Northwest Treaty Tribes website.
Meet and Greet: Justin Parker
Justin Parker is a member of the Makah Tribe and the executive director of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC), a natural resources management organization that provides support services for the 20 treaty Tribes in western Washington. We asked Justin to share a bit about NWIFC, why the organization’s work is so important, and what he loves most about his role.
Justin Parker, Executive Director of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. (Photo credit NWIFC)
Q: When was the NWIFC created and what does it do? A: The NWIFC was created following the 1974 U.S. v. Washington ruling that re-affirmed the tribes’ treaty-reserved fishing rights and recognized the tribes as natural resources co-managers with the State of Washington with an equal share of the harvestable number of salmon returning annually.
The NWIFC has 78 full-time employees to assist member tribes as natural resources co-managers. We provide direct services in fisheries management, harvest monitoring, habitat restoration, climate response, salmon recovery, fish health and more. We also provide communications and intergovernmental relations services and policy coordination so that tribes can speak with a unified voice around state and federal policy.
Q: Why is the NWIFC’s work so important? A: Treaty tribes engage in all aspects of natural resources management and salmon recovery, including harvest management, environmental protection, hatchery production and climate change adaptation. Our technical support services allow tribes to make more efficient use of limited federal funds through an economy of scale and we provide a forum for tribes to address issues of shared concern. NWIFC can then represent those shared concerns to federal and state governments, amplifying the tribes’ voice and influence on sustainable natural resources management.
Q: What do you love most about being the executive director of NWIFC? A: I get to work with, and on behalf of, 20 sovereign nations helping protect their treaty rights. We operate on a consensus basis relative to policy issues and it’s a powerful statement when agreement is reached to advance an issue.
I’ve had the honor to work with some great tribal leaders and staff over the past 21 years I’ve been with the NWIFC. Working closely with the likes of Lorraine Loomis and Billy Frank Jr. has been an amazing experience and we continue to carry out their vision. The work we do is not only for this generation but future generations. All Washingtonians benefit from this work.
Q: What challenges or opportunities are in store for NWIFC in 2022? A: The NWIFC is working with tribes and environmental groups to support Gov. Inslee’s initiative to better protect and restore riparian salmon habitat. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we are optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead. The governor proposed the Lorraine Loomis Act to improve salmon recovery, groundwater supplies, climate resilience and regulatory certainty, as well as create jobs and decrease pollution. The bill was named after our former chair who passed away this past August. We need to continue to fight for legislation like this to protect salmon habitat for future generations.
We also continue to collaborate with our federal partners advancing the tribes’ Treaty Rights at Risk initiative, which called on the federal government to honor its treaty obligations. We called for specific actions in 2011 that were needed to achieve salmon recovery but had little success. Salmon populations continue to decline as their habitat continues to be lost faster than it can be restored.
While we understand the federal government can take time to move on policy issues or legislation, salmon continue to be in grave danger. Significant investments have been made for habitat restoration but the trend of declining habitat continues to outpace our ability to restore it. A lot of the low-hanging fruit has been addressed but we need the federal government to step up and take bold action. We’ve been meeting with the Biden administration, and they’ve put some top-notch staff into place. We expect them to act on our requests so tribes can continue to fish, hunt and gather in our usual and accustomed areas.
The Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA) is excited to announce that its WIGA Scholarship Program is open for applications! WIGA Scholarships will be awarded to students pursuing degrees from community and technical colleges, as well as bachelors and graduate college or university degrees.
WIGA will award multiple scholarships totaling $70,000 for Native American and Alaska Native students for the 2022-23 school year. Applicants must be students who are enrolled members of one of Washington’s 29 federally recognized tribes or American Indian/Alaska Native students enrolled in a federally recognized tribe who are attending school in Washington State.
Online applications opened in January. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2022. Visit WIGA’s scholarship webpage for more information and to apply.
Olympia Watch: Bills to follow this session
The 2022 Washington Legislative Session began on January 10. Here are some bills we’re keeping an eye on this session:
HB 1838, known as the Lorraine Loomis Act, aims to recover and protect riparian habitat alongside critical waterways—an important step in salmon recovery. (Learn more about his bill in this newsletter’s Meet and Greet with Justin Parker.)
HB 1725 concerns the creation of an endangered mission person advisory designation for missing indigenous persons.
HB 1536 relates to establishing regional apprenticeship programs through educational service districts. This would include coordinating with local school districts, charter schools, and state-tribal compact schools to make apprenticeship programs available to high school students.
HB 1172 relates to recognizing judicially affirmed and treaty-reserved fishing rights and promoting state-tribal cooperative agreements in the management of salmon, trout, and steelhead resources.
HB 1717 concerns tribal participation in planning under the Growth Management Act.
Social Media Highlight
Here’s one of our favorite recent Facebook posts (visit Washington Tribes on Facebook to read the whole post and see what else we’ve shared lately).