irect access to some of Puget Sound’s most productive shellfish beds has been returned to the Squaxin Island Tribe in Washington State, USA.
Port Blakely forestry company has returned, without cost, two miles of waterfront land and 125 acres of tidelands to the tribe.
Separately, the company and the Tribe have agreed on an undisclosed purchase price for the return of 1,000 acres of ancestral land. This includes timberland, shoreline, and tidelands on the Little Skookum Inlet in Mason County.
Port Blakely said last month it had decided the socially just and best use for the Kamilche property, land which it acquired in the 1854 Medicine Creek Treaty, would be to offer it to the Tribe.
“The Squaxin people lived and stewarded this land and waterway for thousands of years before it was taken from us in the mid to late 1800’s,” said Squaxin Island Tribal Chair Kris Peters.
“Port Blakely recognise that the Squaxin Island Tribe were unfairly forced to surrender this land”
“It is honourable of the leadership at Port Blakely to recognise this injustice and offer this land to come back to us. These beautiful and bountiful tidelands and beaches will be something all Squaxin’s can enjoy.
“It will be a place to reconnect with our ancestors in ceremony, harvest, and other tribal gatherings. My spirit is singing today. Hawadubš cələp, thank you!”
“Port Blakely and our family owners recognise the cultural significance of this land to the Squaxin Island Tribe, land they were unfairly forced to surrender more than 150 years ago,” said Mike Warjone, President of Port Blakely US Forestry.
“We are grateful for the relationships we’ve built with the Tribal council and hope this agreement allows them to build a legacy for generations to come. We hope other landowners will look for ways to work together with Tribal communities to honor the heritage of the original stewards of the land.”