2020 Voters Guide


An Introduction | The Governor is the chief executive officer of the state. The Governor makes appointments for hundreds of positions, including directors of state agencies. The Governor reports annually to the Legislature on affairs of the state and submits a budget recommendation. The Governor may veto (reject) legislation passed by the Legislature.

Jay Inslee

Jay Inslee

Democrat Nominee

Inslee is a 5th generation Washingtonian. He grew up in White Center and was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1998 and served until 2012 when he was elected Governor. He has a BA in Economics from the University of Washington, and a law degree from Willamette University. He ran for President in 2020.

Responses to Tribe's Questions

To read about this candidate’s responses to the Snoqualmie Tribe’s questions, click through each question below.

Q1: What do you know about the Snoqualmie Tribe?


The Snoqualmie Tribe — the People of the Moon — are Native Americans of the Puget Sound whose people long called the Snoqualmie Valley home. I’ve come to, in my opportunities to work with and get to know the Tribal Council and its members, truly admire their commitment to stewardship of our environment, rich culture and traditions, and deep sense of compassion for others.

Q2: What is your experience working with Tribes?


Throughout my career I have worked with tribes across the state and understand the unique challenges and strengths of our 29 federally recognized tribes. From salmon, to forests, to the Puget Sound, I have come to rely on tribes for guidance and insight when legislating on a wide variety of issues. Most recently, it has been my honor working with tribes on COVID response. The efforts we are taking together to protect the lives of one another demonstrate our shared commitment to secure a healthy and prosperous future for us all.

Q3: What does the ideal government-to-government relationship with tribes look like to you?


I have been and will remain committed to upholding the Centennial Accord and prioritizing a transparent, regular, open door policy between my administration and tribal leadership on a government-to-government basis. I will continue to stand for tribal sovereignty and tribal rights, and I support policies to enhance tribal self-determination and meaningful tribal consultation.

Q4: If elected, what would your Indian Country-related goals be?


It has been my honor during my time in office to work with tribal nations to build a better future for everyone in Washington state. The record of collaboration we have established together will be essential to addressing the immediate crisis in front of us: defeating the COVID-19 pandemic that disproportionately harms Native populations, and helping communities recover from the economic harm it has caused. I’m also proud of the progress we’ve made on our shared values — building economic opportunity, supporting educational opportunity and health care, and protecting our shared environment — and look forward to the work ahead on these issues.

Q5: What is your knowledge of tribal treaties and trust obligations?


Tribal treaties recognize and establish unique sets of rights, benefits, and conditions for the treaty-making tribes. These treaties are the supreme law of the land, and they are the foundation upon which federal Indian law and the federal Indian trust relationship is based. The federal Indian trust responsibility is a legal obligation under which the United States “has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust”toward Indian tribes. The federal Indian trust responsibility is also a legally enforceable fiduciary obligation on the part of the United States to protect, among other things, tribal treaty rights and lands. I am committed to ensuring that Washington state fully abides by the tribal treaties, as the supreme law of the land, and fully recognizes and respects the treaty rights of Native American communities in our state. Through our decades of work together, I have learned about the unique strengths and circumstances of each relationship, as well as the unique challenges faced by each of the 29 federally- recognized tribes in our state. As we work to affirm and protect tribal treaty rights, we will surely face both new opportunities and new challenges – and I pledge to meet each of these with the values of transparency, openness, and respect for tribal sovereignty that have defined my administration’s approach to our agreements and sovereign relationships.

Q6: Do you support increasing funding to tribes for services such as health care, cultural resources, and education?


Yes, I do. Sadly, for decades, the federal Department of the Interior and the Indian Health Service have both mismanaged and underfunded programs in these areas, representing a failure to meet treaty obligations. The result has been a perpetuation of health and education disparities that are unacceptable. I’m proud of my record as a Member of Congress to have confronted, with success, this mismanagement. As governor, we’ve taken steps to help redress these inequities at the state level, including creating a requirement for tribal cultural education in schools across Washington, protection of tribal fisheries, and more. And amid the COVID-19 public health emergency, the state has been proud to work with tribal governments to provide millions in additional funding on top of federal allocations that help Native American communities fight the pandemic and preserve economic opportunity.

Q7: What do you know about free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC)? If elected, would you advocate for these principles to be included in legislation and policy?


I am committed to standing up for tribal sovereignty over the years and support policies to enhance tribal self-determination. I am also proud of the partnerships that we have formed with tribal nations in Washington state to confront climate change, to recover our salmon and the health of Puget Sound, and to protect our clean air, water, and wildlife and public lands. Tribal communities have been among the worst impacted by pollution and environmental degradation, generally, and by the impacts of climate change, specifically. I support fully engaging Native American communities in decision-making processes through good-faith meaningful tribal consultation, especially when state actions might affect tribal lands.

Q8: What protections do you believe Tribal cultural resources and sacred sites should have?


Protecting Tribal cultural resources and sacred sites is at the core of why government- to-government relationships defined by transparency, openness, and policies of meaningful tribal consultation are essential. I am committed to upholding these principles as governor, and view the protection of tribal cultural resources, such as salmon, as one of the most sacred duties of the office. I’m proud that, during my administration, we’ve protected tens of thousands of acres of habitat essential to fish and wildlife, enhanced protections for our treasured orca populations, dedicated tens of millions towards parkland, and struck new agreements with Canada to ensure the return of salmon to our waters.

I also believe that it’s just as important to ensure that tribal views are represented within the government bodies that are working to support Tribal cultural resources and heritage. That is why I have been committed during my administration to ensuring that our state boards, commissions, and cabinet posts accurately reflect the great diversity of our state, including our tribal communities. And I am immensely proud of having had the honor of appointing Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis to the state Supreme Court, an incredibly talented jurist who is also the first Native American justice to sit on the state’s highest court, and who brings extensive experience in tribal courts to the bench.

Q9: What do you believe is the best role of government in the fee to trust process for tribes to gain jurisdiction over their traditional lands?


The fee-to-trust process is an important tool for protection of traditional Tribal lands. As governor, I have worked hard to ensure that the right balance is struck between sovereignty of tribal lands as well as the consideration of state and local jurisdictions. As a Member of Congress, I also co-sponsored legislation for the “Carcieri fix” to the Indian Reorganization Act, which strengthened the fee-to-trust process for federally-recognized Tribes like the Snoqualmie. In circumstances where a state role is indicated, I am committed to continuing to work with Tribal governments to strike the right balance.

Q10: What do you know about the Snoqualmie Tribe's sacred site, Snoqualmie Falls? Do you support the Tribe's right to have a say in any future decisions made on its sacred site, including hydropower licensing?


Snoqualmie Falls is a premiere part of our state’s natural beauty, and the protection of that natural beauty is a value that I share with the Snoqualmie Tribe. Protecting our air, land, and water, and ensuring a future that preserves our environment against the ravages of climate change, is a core priority of my administration as well as a promise we keep for future generations. I am committed to continuing our ongoing work with the Snoqualmie Tribe on meeting these priorities, including preservation of the Falls and its surrounding acreage.

Q11: What role, if any, do you feel the State of Washington plays in Treaty Rights disputes?


The State of Washington will approach any role it may have in a given Treaty Rights dispute with the same principles of respect, openness, and transparency that is at the core of State-Tribal relations in my administration. I am committed to maintaining a positive government-to-government relationship with the Native American communities within our state, and to resolving disputes where they may exist through engagement, meaningful tribal consultation, and enduring respect for tribal sovereignty.

Q12: Do you support the Snoqualmie Tribe as a signatory of the Treaty of Point Elliot having equal rights to its fellow treaty signatory tribes?


I am committed to continuing a transparent and open government-to-government relationship with the Snoqualmie Tribe that we have enjoyed over the last several years. I recognize that the State has no voice in — or authority to establish — treaty rights. Only the federal courts can make those determinations. However, while the exact status of the Tribe’s rights as a signatory are a matter of ongoing litigation, our relationship withthe Snoqualmie Tribe will continue to be one where we honor our government-to- government relationship and all federally recognized treaty rights, and we work together to ensure the best outcome for both parties. One example of this commitment is my recent proclamation ensuring that Tribal governments, including the Snoqualmie, have increased flexibility to utilize fuel sale proceeds to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loren Culp

Loren Culp

Republican Nominee

Culp was born in Everett and is a lifelong Washington resident. He currently serves as the Chief of Police in Republic, WA and for over 20 years he owned and operated a construction company in Olympia before moving to Republic and joining the law enforcement community.

Rather than provide individual answers to each of the Tribe’s questions, Mr. Culp opted to submit a statement (below):

I am familiar with the Snoqualmie Tribe being among the original signatures of the Point Elliot Treaty and were one of the largest tribes in the Puget Sound Region at that time. I am also aware that the current reservation is not on true ancestral land even though an attempt has been made on more than one occasion to change that. I am also keenly aware that the Snoqualmie Tribe has many of the same goals as other tribes within Washington State – placing great importance on water quality, habitat restoration and conservation efforts as well as the preservation of health and traditional culture within the membership. 

My involvement with the tribes in general has been limited to personal family relationships (I have close family who are tribal members).  With my background in the US military, being a private business owner and most recently having a career with law enforcement, I have not had the opportunity to involve myself with the tribes on a professional level until now. As Governor of Washington State, I would have the opportunity and distinct honor to learn more and to help the tribes achieve their goal or providing the best resources for their members. 

The Snoqualmie Tribe is one of the twenty-nine (29) federally recognized tribes within the borders of Washington State. There are also six (6) tribes that are ‘acknowledged’ but not officially ‘recognized’ by the federal government. There are also many tribes that are not accepted at all even though they are signatories on one or more of the treaties within Washington State. It is my understanding that most tribes and tribal governments, whether recognized or not recognized—federally funded or not—are all interested in projects and services that will allow their tribe to grow and develop their individual tribal communities and culture. I would like to see those opportunities encouraged and reinforced. Regarding tribal relations, it would be my focus as Governor to change the current situation between the government of Washington State and the Tribes (with or without governments) in order to achieve a level of harmony for all involved. There are solutions to be discovered; I will do the hard work to negotiate those solutions. 

Treaties are a large subject. There are eight (8) separate treaties between the U.S. and the Northwest Indian tribes. The Point Eliot Treaty being one that the Snoqualmie Tribe is a signatory of. As to the issue of ‘trust’; the Point Eliot treaty is a good example: of the eighty-two (82) tribal signatures on the treaty, twenty-one (21) tribes/bands were present and represented. Of those tribes only nine (9) were granted federal recognition –the Snoqualmie Tribe being one of them. As a result, the other tribes have been neglected. Washington State has refused to acknowledge or honor the rights of people belonging to those other tribes even though they are specifically named and are signers on the treaty. I believe it is appropriate that equal acknowledgement of all tribes represented within the individual treaties be granted by Washington State because each treaty specifically addresses a different tribe or band of tribes.  The largest issue is the environmental and cultural differences between those that populate the east side of the state and those on the coastal side of the state. That said, as each tribe has a formal contract between the sovereign nations and the United States, the most prudent issue is that the original documents be not just read but ‘understood’ by people in governmental positions. These documents were put in place to ensure the rights and privileges of the indigenous people born to this land and must be upheld and honored by the state government. The most significant of which would be the Boldt Decision: United States v. Washington. Over time, the State of Washington infringed on the treaty rights of the tribes despite losing a series of court cases on the issue. The Boldt Decision reaffirmed the reserved right of American Indian Tribes in the State of Washington to act alongside the state as co-managers of salmon and other fish; and to continue harvesting them in accordance with the various treaties that the United States had signed with the tribes. The tribes of Washington had ceded their land to the United States but had reserved the right to fish as they had always done; including fishing at their traditional locations that were off the designated reservations.  

I would support and assist the tribes in securing the tools and resources necessary to aid in directing tribal funds and resources to the appropriate areas—with emphasis on the most important aspects of education, living and health care. 

FPIC (Free Prior Informed Consent) is a global undertaking by the Food and Agricultural organization of the United Nations. As there cannot be a distinction between ‘rights’ and ‘privileges’ within the documentation involving the Tribes of the United States; ideally FPIC would be combined with the concept of treaty affairs and concerns. Because the tribes have a special connection to their land and resources; the rights and privileges of land and resource usage should absolutely involve the views and perspective of the tribe or tribes impacted by any level of change. Wherever there is a designated area for tribal cultural activity (sacred or not) that would fall totally to the tribal government to manage and maintain as they see fit. However; if there should be an issue about land use in an area not specifically designated as tribal (particularly public use areas with established businesses in place) all parties involved should be heard and considered while maintaining an understanding and appreciation for the significance of tribal heritage and avoidance of any further destruction to the location. Always keep in mind that use of the treaties belong to the tribe as a whole and not an individual member of any tribe; any issue of land and resources would have to be addressed with tribal government(s) specifically impacted, not an individual tribal member unless that member was appointed by the tribe to represent the views and perspective of the tribe as a whole. Each tribe involved would need to have its own representative. 

A fee-to-trust land acquisition is a transfer of land title from an eligible Indian Tribe or eligible Indian individual(s) to the United States of America, in trust, for the benefit of the eligible Indian Tribe or eligible Indian individual(s). This is a huge issue that involves applications, notices, and documentation. There are different laws that must be satisfied. Most acquisitions are authorized under 25 USC § 465, Section 5 Indian Reorganization Act (1934) and reviewed under 25 CFR § 151. However, the Department of the Interior must comply with all federal laws, including compliance with NEPA, 602 DM 2 Hazardous Substances Determinations, National Historical Preservation Act (NHPA) and US Department of Justice Title Standards. See 25 CFR § 151.13. The length of time to complete the process varies depending on the required steps. The required steps differ for on-reservation or off-reservation trust acquisitions and mandatory or discretionary acquisitions. A response to this should be from the perspective of an official overseeing or approving of any other properly processed legal request or action.  As I’ve stated at virtually all of my events regarding every bill that comes my desk, I will follow the rulebook of government (in this case treaty law). When the government follows that rule book—everyone is protected equally. 

I hope this statement addresses your questions and gives you a clear sense of how I will act when I am elected Governor.  Thank you very much for the opportunity and distinct honor to address your tribe and the concerns of your tribal leadership.