The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe has acquired roughly 12,000 acres of its ancestral forestlands in the Tolt River Watershed.
According to the Tribe, the forest has significant cultural, historic, environmental, and economic value to the Tribe and is near the lands originally promised to the Tribe as its reservation by the federal government in the 1930s – a promise the United States did not keep.
The lands acquired by the Tribe were managed for industrial timber purposes for over a century. By acquiring these lands, the Tribe is concluding a decades-long effort to reclaim ownership in an area that is enormously important to the Tribe.
“Because of this purchase, roughly 12,000 acres of the ancestral lands of the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe are being returned to the People who have loved, cared for, cultivated, and protected them since the beginning of time, and who dearly felt their loss for over a century,” said Snoqualmie Tribal Chairman Robert de los Angeles. “Going forward, our Tribe will sustainably manage these lands to produce revenue for our Tribe while we steward the functioning ecosystems and thriving wildlife populations that have shared these lands with our People since time immemorial.”
The Tribe intends to continue to sustainably harvest timber on the property as part of a larger holistic plan to manage key ecosystems, support the diversity of native plant species and wildlife populations, and protect and build upon the Tribe’s cultural heritage and ancient connection to the site.
“Caring for these lands is the sacred duty given to our Tribe by the Creator, and no one can do it better,” concluded Chairman de los Angeles.
The Tribe has named the property the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Forest. The acquisition follows Snoqualmie’s $125 million deal in 2019 to acquire Salish Lodge and Spa and the surrounding lands adjacent to Snoqualmie Falls, the Snoqualmie Tribe’s most sacred site.
The acquisition was approved both by the Snoqualmie Tribal Council and by a super-majority of the Tribe’s citizens. The early stages of the acquisition were facilitated by Forterra, a nonprofit environmental group which also provided transaction assistance.
“I congratulate the Snoqualmie Tribe on a major land acquisition and victory for conservation in our region,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The Snoqualmie Tribe has provided leadership on important economic and cultural challenges, including the emergency work to restore the Lake Sammamish Kokanee. Today’s bold action affirms the Tribe’s strong commitment to protecting water quality and restoring habitat, contributing to the collective action we’re taking throughout local watersheds.”