Snohomish Tribe sues for federal recognition

Seattle, Washington (AP) 3-08

The Snohomish Tribe has sued in federal court during March to overturn a 2004 decision that denied it federal recognition.

The tribe alleges that the Bureau of Indian Affairs acted arbitrarily and applied the wrong legal standards when it made the decision.

“There are certain standards you have to meet to get recognition, and our point is that we met that standard but the government didn’t apply the facts,” John Devlin, the tribe’s Seattle-based lawyer, told The Herald of Everett.

The Tulalip Tribes have long opposed the Snohomish Tribe’s appeal for recognition, arguing that the Snohomish people were among those tribes that originally settled on the Tulalip reservation.

The BIA requires that tribes seeking recognition prove they’ve existed continuously as a distinct community, with political authority over their members. Recognition entitles tribes to federal assistance and rights such as hunting and fishing.

The tribe argues that poor living conditions on the Tulalip Reservation kept many Snohomish Indians from living there, one factor that led the BIA to reject the tribe’s 2004 appeal for recognition.