Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 19:50:13 EST

05, 1999)



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. 

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