File photo by Steve Shay
Duwamish Tribe Chairwoman Cecile Hansen photographed near the Duwamish River in 2010. Congressman Jim McDermott is trying to get the tribe federal recognition.

Congressman McDermott tries for Duwamish Tribe federal recognition again

7th Congressional District Congressman Jim McDermott reintroduced the Duwamish Tribal Recognition Act (H.R. 2442) on July 1 in hopes of finally gaining federal recognition and benefits for the native people of metropolitan Seattle (named after Si’ahl, a Duwamish and Suquamish chief).

“Nearly 150 years ago after the Duwamish Tribe signed the Point Elliot Treaty in 1855, they are still seeking federal recognition, which was granted in 2001 but denied under dubious circumstances eight months later,” McDermott wrote in a letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in May.

He went on to explain, “On March 22, 2013, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour vacated the September 2001 denial of the Duwamish Tribe’s recognition by Bush administration officials in the Interior Department.”

The bill is now in committee, and is one McDermott has been battling to get out of committee for years. In 2010 the same bill was delayed due to congressional focus on health care reform, he said.

Chairwoman of the Duwamish Tribe Cecile Hansen shared her thoughts on McDermott’s action:

“I greatly appreciate Congressman McDermott’s persistent efforts for this tribe, who have suffered much injustice since treaty time and still goes on today…

“Those other elected officials in this State look the other way, and it is most bothersome to put it mildly as we have contacted them too many times. No Response. Now, we are awaiting word from our law firm who met with BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) last week about our prolonged process of no man’s land of nonexistence …”

The Duwamish Tribe Longhouse and Cultural Center is located in West Seattle at 4705 W. Marginal Way S.W.

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