Posted by [EMAIL PROTECTED] : From: [EMAIL PROTECTED] Message-ID: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 19:50:13 EST http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?r106:1:./temp/~r106iOYzKs:e314448: STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS (Senate - August 05, 1999) ------------------------------------------------------------------------ THE SPOKANE TRIBE SETTLEMENT ACT Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, today I am pleased to introduce on behalf of myself and the distinguished Senator from Hawaii, Mr. Inouye, `The Spokane Tribe of Indians of the Spokane Reservation Grand Coulee Dam Equitable Compensation Act.' This bill will provide a settlement of the claims of the Spokane Tribe for its contribution to the production of hydropower by the Grand Coulee Dam. The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest concrete dam in the world, the largest electricity producer in the United States, and the third largest electricity producer in the world. Grand Coulee is one mile in width; its spillway is twice the height of Niagara Falls. It provides electricity and water to one of the world's largest irrigation projects, the one million acre Columbia Basin Project. The Grand Coulee is the backbone of the Northwest's federal power grid and agricultural economy. To the Spokane Tribe, however, the Grand Coulee Dam brought an end to a way of life. The dam flooded their reservation on two sides. The Spokane River changed from a free flowing waterway that supported plentiful salmon runs, to barren slack water that now erodes the southern lands of the reservation. The benefits that accrued to the nation and the Northwest were made possible by uncompensated injury to the Native Americans of the Columbia and Spokane Rivers. The legislation I am introducing seeks to compensate the Spokane Tribe for its losses. In 1994, Congress enacted similar settlement legislation to compensate the neighboring Confederated Colville Tribes. That legislation provided a onetime payment of $53 million for past damages and approximately $15 million annually from the proceeds from the sale of hydropower by the Bonneville Power Administration. The Spokane Tribe settlement legislation would provide a settlement proportional to that provided to the Colville Tribes, which was based on the percentage of lands appropriated from the respective tribes for the dam. This translates into 39.4% of the past and future compensation awarded the Colville Tribes. Let me give my colleagues some of the background surrounding this issue. From 1927 to 1931, at the direction of Congress, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers investigated the Columbia River and its tributaries. In its report to Congress, the Corps recommended the Grande Coulee site for hydroelectric development. In 1933, the Department of Interior federalized the project under the National Industrial Recovery Act, and in 1935, Congress authorized the project in the Rivers and Harbors Act. In 1940, Congress enacted a statute to authorize the Interior Department to designate whichever Indian lands it deemed necessary for Grand Coulee construction and to receive all rights, title and interest the Indians had in them. In return, the Tribes received compensation in the amount determined by Interior Department appraisals. However, the only land that was appraised and for which Tribes were compensated was the newly flooded land, for which the Spokane Tribe received $4700. There is no evidence that the Department advised or that Congress knew that the Tribes' water rights were not extinguished. Neither was there evidence the Department know the Indian title and trust status for the Tribal land underlying the river beds had not been extinguished. No compensation was included for the power value contributed by the use of the Tribal resources or for the loss of the Tribal fisheries or other damages to Tribal resources. As pointed out in a 1976 Opinion of Lawrence Aschenbrenner, the Acting Associate Solicitor, Division of Indian Affairs, Department of Interior The 1940 act followed seven years of construction during which farm lands, and timber lands were flooded, and a fishery destroyed, and during which Congress was silent as to the Indian interests affected by the construction. Both the Congress and the Department of Interior appeared to proceed with the Grand Coulee project as if there were no Indians involved there. . . . There is no tangible evidence, currently available, to indicate that the Department ever consulted with the Tribes during the 1933-1940 period concerning the ongoing destruction of their land and resources and proposed compensation therefore. . . . It is our conclusion that the location of the dams on tribal land and the use of the water for power production, without compensation, violated the government's fiduciary duty toward the Tribes.