Congress Passes Bill to Place Land into Trust for Hoh Indian Tribe >>

December 19th, 2010

Congress Passes Bill to Place Land into Trust for Hoh Indian Tribe

On Wednesday, December 15, 2010, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1061, the Hoh Indian Tribe Safe Homelands Act, under suspension of the rules by voice vote. The bill awaits President Obama’s signature.

This legislation was needed to relocate the Hoh village to higher ground. The current Reservation, which was established by Executive Order in 1893, consists of 443 acres in northwest Washington state and is hemmed in by the Pacific Ocean, the wild Hoh River, and Olympic National Park. The Reservation lies in a flood plain and tsunami zone, and the changes in ocean tide and the direction of the river have reduced the size of the Reservation over time.

The new law directs the Secretary of the Interior to place approximately 471 acres of federal and non-federal land contiguous to the existing Hoh Reservation into trust for the benefit of the Hoh Tribe. The new lands are located out of harm’s way and will enable the Tribe to move its housing and government service buildings to safe areas.

Hoh Tribal Chairwoman Maria Lopez gave the following statement after passage of the Act: “Words can’t express the joy that I feel for our people of the Hoh Village. I want to thank the bill’s sponsors, Congressman Norm Dicks and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as co-sponsor Congressman Tom Cole. On the State level, we of course want to thank Governor Christine Gregoire – the sponsor of the State enabling legislation – and many others on the State and local government level….”

“This news could not have come at a better time for the Hoh Tribe. We nearly avoided yet another flooding this past weekend, and the rainy season is upon us. This continuous threat makes the urgency to implement this legislation all the more immediate. We hope that President Obama will expeditiously sign the bill, and once that is done, we look forward to working with the various agencies on implementation to formally place the land into trust and begin help in relocating and rebuilding our Village.”

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