Legislation to Spur Economic Development for Puyallup Tribe and South Puget Sound Clears Senate

Cantwell championed legislation passes the Senate unanimously

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, the Senate unanimously passed legislation offered by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to place more than 17 acres of land currently owned by the Puyallup Tribe into trust, restoring part of the Tribe’s ancestral homeland and facilitating new economic development and job creation opportunities at the Port of Tacoma and on the Tacoma waterfront. Sen. Cantwell reintroduced the bill, S. 382 the Puyallup Tribe of Indians Land Into Trust Act, in February 2023 along with Sen. Murray (D-WA).

“I’m glad the Senate swiftly passed S. 382 the Puyallup Tribe of Indians Land Into Trust Act, a bill that will allow the Puyallup Tribe to create new economic development opportunities in South Puget Sound and return the Tribe to its ancestral homeland,” said Sen. Cantwell. “I will be working with my colleagues to get this bill passed out of the House of Representatives and signed into law.”

Sen. Cantwell has consistently championed this legislation. Last Congress, Sen. Cantwell led members of the Washington state Democratic Delegation in introducing the Puyallup Tribe of Indians Land Into Trust Act of 2022. In 2004, Cantwell moved similar legislation that allowed the Port of Tacoma to expand its Evergreen Shipping Terminal, which facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars of regional economic investment and the creation of thousands of new jobs.

Land is taken into trust when land is transferred to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to be held in trust for the benefit of the Tribe. To transfer Tribal lands into trust, Tribes may apply to BIA, which will either approve or deny the application, or Congress may pass a bill directing the BIA to take the land into trust. Due to legacy contamination on this land due to industrial development near Commencement Bay, the BIA is unable to take the land into trust and Congressional action through legislation is “the most viable option” as the BIA affirmed in a letter to the Tribe on August 15, 2022.

Land that is taken into trust by the federal government is governed by the Tribe and can benefit from federal programs and services such as New Market Tax Credits, Tax-Exempt Financing, Discounted Leasing Rates, and Foreign Trade Zone Customs and Duty Deferral, among other benefits that protect Tribal sovereignty and allow the Tribe to create economic opportunities for its Members and surrounding communities.

The proposal for the land to be taken into trust is supported by the City of Tacoma, Pierce County, and Governor Inslee.

Go HERE for the full bill text.