Editorial: Respect tribal sovereignty in state

"Majority Democrats in the House recently beat back a bill amendment by Republicans that would ban campaign contributions to the governor from group with which she negotiates.

The ill-conceived amendment offered by Republican floor leader Rep. David Buri of Colfax was defeated as House members debated a bill that would allow Gov. Chris Gregoire to enter into agreements with state treaty tribes on a tribal fuel tax compact and a timber excise tax contract.

By the House Republicans own account, American Indian tribes have contributed only $38,100 to Gregoire’s campaign coffers since 2000, out of total campaign fund of $6.3 million.

While some legislators might be disgruntled over state-tribal compacts covering gambling, tobacco taxes and gas taxes, there is nothing to suggest the tribes are buying favors from this governor, or any other governor in the past.

Federal law requires the governor to bargain in good faith with the tribes on very controversial and complex issues. That’s exactly what’s happening in the negotiations over how to allocate revenues from state gasoline taxes collected at the pump on tribal reservations.

The tribes are sovereign nations with rights established by treaties. Tribal sovereignty might be a concept some folks find difficult to accept. But maintaining civil, thoughtful, government-to-government relations with the tribes is in the best interests of all citizens of the state."

Get the Story:
Editorial: State cannot ignore rights of tribes (The Olympian 3/26)

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