Current topics in archaeology, cultural heritage & historic preservation

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Senator Patty Murray Supports Chinook Nation...I think.

In a post on May 26, 2009 I endorsed the Chinook tribe's quest for official recognition by the federal government and asked you all to send messages of support to your elected officials. Like many of you, I took my own advice and wrote to Senator Patty Murray (WA U.S. senator, at left).

Senator Murray just sent a response to my letter and I'm going to share part of it because its indicative of the fight the Chinook are in.

Let me start by saying that Senator Murray has a long and solid history of supporting Indian people and issues, so I'm not trying to pick on her. I believe she is an ally.

That said her message to me is a beautifully written exercise in political speak. Senator Murry wrote...

"In May 2009, Representative Baird (D-WA) introduced H.R. 2576, the Chinook Nation Restoration Act... Should H.R. 2576 or similar legislation come before the full Senate for a vote, I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind."

Notice she didn't commit to support the legislation, but only to keep my thoughts in mind.

She goes on to say...
"...Throughout my Senate tenure I have consistently supported tribal self-determination and opposed efforts to erode the rights of Native Americans."

True, but again, no clear statement either way on the Chinook issue.

As I said above, I'm not trying to be critical of Senator Murray. I'm trying to illustrate that the Chinooks are NOT in a battle of facts or science. They're in a political fight and have been for years. Senator Murray's carefully worded letter is an acknowledgment that she (like every other elected official) has other powerful political forces to consider as she looks at Chinook recognition.

All this just means that the Chinooks continue to need your support!

If you're moved to do so, you can find your elected representatives at this link: They'd love to hear from you!

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