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.