Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe Statement on U.S. Supreme Court and culverts case

Statement of Chairman Benjamin Joseph regarding the Supreme Court decision in culverts case

News Release

Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe

In the Pacific Northwest we are blessed to reside and work in a region, many parts of which retain the rich and varied pristine environment that has existed since time immemorial. As the natural beauty of this state attracts more and people and businesses, increasing state revenue and standards of living, this often comes at the price of the precious natural resources such as the wild salmon and other species which make this state what it is. In large measure, one of the greatest tools for protection of the vast natural vegetative and aquatic resources of the State of Washington which makes this state such a unique place has been the Treaties between the United States and the tribes which inhabited the territory. Such treaties have been relied upon to improve water quality, prevent importation of hazardous substances to our ports and waterways, and improve wildlife habitat for the benefit of all citizens of this state. Unlike congressional and legislative enactments for protection of environmental and public health which can be repealed, amended, or altered by administrative regulations or legislation, Treaties, according to the United States Constitution, embody the Supreme Law of the nation.

As we all contemplate the future of this State, please bear in mind that the need may arise in the future to call upon the tribes of this state to invoke their treaties as the last and greatest protection of the unique character of this region against degradation. Be assured that we will be there with you as we always have been, providing assistance on a government to government basis to protect the region and its precious resources. For this reason, the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe urges the State of Washington to readily act in a manner that comports with the decision of the Ninth Circuit court of appeals in the “Culverts” case. The Ninth Circuit decision as a precedent provides assurance to the people of this state that the environment and quality of life which is so closely associated with the precious resources of this region will be preserved. We look to the State of Washington to act with alacrity in the coming months to comply with this decision.

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