Cantwell, McMorris Rodgers Applaud Passage of Spokane Equitable Compensation Act Through House Committee

Legislation would authorize long-overdue compensation to Spokane Tribe of Indians for past, continuing use of Tribal lands; Having already passed the Senate, bill now moves to consideration before the full House

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Natural Resources Committee passed bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R, WA-05) to provide the Spokane Tribe of Indians equitable compensation for the lands taken by the United States as part of the Grand Coulee Dam development project in the 1930s and 1940s. 

Having previously passed the Senate unanimously and won support from the Trump administration in March 2018, the bill is positioned to pass the full House of Representatives and move to the president’s desk for signature. 

“For over 60 years, the Spokane Tribe has worked to get just and equitable compensation for the use of thousands of acres of Tribal lands,” Senator Cantwell said. “After working for more than 18 years on this legislation, I hope the House will pass it quickly and send it to the president’s desk.” 

“The Grand Coulee Dam brought great benefits to our region in the form of clean, renewable, and affordable energy. Unfortunately, as a result, Eastern Washington tribes lost land, burial sites, access to rivers, and historic trading routes. In return, the Spokane tribe was offered an extremely low level of compensation for these losses. This legislation will ensure that we right this historical wrong and that the tribe receives equitable compensation for the negative impact on their land and culture. This is long overdue,” said McMorris Rodgers. 

The Spokane Tribe of Indians of the Spokane Reservation Equitable Compensation Act would authorize annual payments to be made by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to the Spokane Tribe for past and continuing use of Tribal lands for the construction and operation of the Grand Coulee Dam. 

As the largest hydroelectric facility in the United States, Grand Coulee Dam has produced electricity for towns and cities across the western United States for more than 75 years. However, since the construction of the multipurpose project, the Spokane Tribe has yet to be compensated for the significant damages to its Tribal lands and livelihoods. 

Securing just compensation for the Spokane Tribe has been a long-term priority for Senator Cantwell. Since taking office, she has repeatedly introduced legislation to secure compensation and has continually advocated for its passage. Representative McMorris Rodgers has also tirelessly worked with her colleagues to ensure its passage.