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Millennium Agreement Press Release

LEAVENWORTH (11/4/99)--Governor Gary Locke and Attorney General Christine Gregoire joined tribal chairs from throughout the state Wednesday in signing an "Agreement To Institutionalize The Government-to-Government Relationship In Preparation For The New Millennium." This agreement, between the State of Washington and the Tribal Nations, is an affirmation of the 1989 Centennial Accord, as well as a compact to implement the terms of the Accord on a day-to-day basis.

The signing event capped a three-day retreat titled "Building Bridges For The New Millennium" at the Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth. Over the course of the three days, state and tribal officials framed the terms and principles of the state/tribal relationship needed to cement their government-to-government relationship. Among these principles were partnership and collaboration related to economic, social/cultural issues and natural resources, as well as improved communication, cooperative education, and the development of a consensus-based, lasting and respectful relationship.

"In our centennial year of 1989, the tribes and the state signed the Centennial Accord, reaffirming the fact that we must work together, government-to-government, for the benefit of both tribal and non-tribal people. A decade later we sign this 'New Millennium Agreement' to emphasize the importance of making the Centennial Accord a part of our every day lives. The economic, cultural, environmental and leadership contributions of the tribes to this state are far greater than most people realize. I call on all citizens of the state to support this agreement and commit themselves to improved tribal/non-tribal understanding and relations," said Governor Locke.

"It is critical for people to realize that the establishment and continued function of the state of Washington is based on contracts, or treaties, with the Native American nations. As we enter the new millennium, we must all understand that these contracts are the law of the land, as defined in the Constitution of the United States," said Attorney General Gregoire.

"By fully embracing the Centennial Accord, and committing to the fulfillment of its principles, Governor Locke and Attorney General Gregoire are demonstrating true leadership. The tribes are committed to the nurturing of this seed of hope. We will work with the state, and follow through with this agreement, for the benefit of all future generations," said Brian Cladoosby, president of the Association of Washington Tribes and Chairman of the Swinomish Tribe.

"There are a lot of obstacles that stand in the way of progress in the state/tribal relationship. If we're going to overcome them, we need the focus that this agreement provides. We need to develop an action plan, based on a foundation of historic understanding as well as common objectives. We appreciate the willingness of the governor to work with us to help achieve these things," said W. Ron Allen, First Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians and Chairman of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe.

"It is time for the state and the tribes to focus on where we are going, together. The natural resources we all depend upon must be protected for future generations. Water must be protected for fish and wildlife. Rivers must be protected from the onslaught of urban sprawl. If our bridge into the next millennium is to bring us to a place where there is a quality of life and where Indians and non-Indians are to understand one another and work together, it is a bridge we must cross together," said Billy Frank, Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

At the retreat, discussion centered on these main areas: Further defining the state/tribal relationship, economic development, natural resource management and social/cultural/education/law enforcement.

A state/tribal workgroup was established to develop process, structure and protocols to implement the Centennial Accord and the New Millennium Agreement into a day-to-day working relationship.

With respect to economic development, one of many projects being undertaken pursuant to the New Millennium Agreement is the creation of an updated report detailing the economic contributions of the tribes to the state, with emphasis on making the report action-oriented.

In the natural resources arena, the agreement calls for representatives of the State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Natural Resources, the Attorney General's Office and the tribes to meet within the next 10 days to resolve differences of geographic scope, pursue joint/tribal agreement on management areas, and clarify access to private timber lands. In the long term, actions will include the development of a resource management plan, a long-term hunting agreement and legislative strategy.

"In the long run, the value of this agreement will be measured in terms of how well the people and the governments of this state, Indian and non-Indian, work together, learn together and cooperate," said Governor Locke. " We are committed to help make this happen."