WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, has introduced legislation that will provide permanent protection to more than 95 acres of Samish Tribal lands in Skagit and San Juan counties. The Samish Indian Nation Homelands Act of 2012 (H.R. 5992) would put the land, currently owned by the Samish Tribe, into federal trust for the tribe.
“This bill will help the Samish continue to build a solid foundation for economic growth, preserve vital community services, and give tribal members certainty about the Tribe’s future,” Larsen said. “By putting these lands into federal trust, we would protect vital services and economic centers for the Samish Tribe.”
“This bill has earned the support of the Samish Tribe and city, county and state leaders,” Larsen added. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill to help ensure a more prosperous future for the Samish Tribe.”
“The Samish Indian Nation is working hard to ensure that the future is bright for our people, including job opportunities for tribal members and our neighboring communities alike,” said Samish Indian Nation Chairman Tom Wooten. “Rep. Larsen has been a true partner in working with the Tribe to make this goal a reality for our Tribe and the communities the Tribe resides in. We deeply appreciate that he has introduced the Samish Indian Nation Homelands Act. The Tribe also appreciates and acknowledges the relationship it shares with the City of Anacortes, Skagit County, San Juan County, and the state of Washington for their collaboration with us on this legislation and for their friendship and partnership. Working together, we can revitalize the area we all share in a way that allows for our next seven generations to grow and prosper for all that live here.”
The legislation would take 95 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.
The legislation has been endorsed by local leaders including the City of Anacortes Mayor and City Council, the San Juan County Council, the Skagit County Board of Commissioners, State Senators Mary Margaret Haugen and Kevin Ranker, and State Representatives Kristine Lytton and Jeff Morris.
“The City of Anacortes and the Samish Indian Nation have a long history of partnering on issues affecting both governing bodies,” said Anacortes Mayor Dean Maxwell. “The City of Anacortes supports the Samish Indian Nation Homeland Act of 2012 which allows the Samish Indian Nation to convert five parcels into non-gaming trust status for housing, government and support services for the tribe.”