Representatives of the Chinook Nation Sign Recognition Documents at the Department of Interior in 2001
Representatives of the Chinook Nation sign recognition documents at the Department of Interior, in 2001, with Assistant Secretary, Kevin Gover. Unbelievably, the Chinook Nation’s status as a Federally Recognized tribe was revoked 18 short months later.
Kevin Gover, Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs
On the final determination for federal acknowledgment of the Chinook Indian tribe/Chinook nation
It is my honor and privilege today to sign the documents re-establishing a government-to-government relationship between the United States of America and the Chinook Indian tribe/Chinook nation. As it happens, this will he my last act as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.
Opportunities such as this one are rare in government, and rear in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of the Interior. Today, we have the opportunity to address directly a historical injustice lasting many, many years. The Chinook were among the tribes encountered by Lewis and Clark on their so-called Voyage of Discovery. While the Chinook well may have seemed a discovery to Captains Lewis and Clark, in reality they had been living in their ancestral homes for many generations.
The Chinook first treated with the United States in 1851, 150 years ago. Then began a long period of the United States neglecting its responsibilities and promises to the Chinook people. Throughout this long period of neglect, the Chinook persevered and refused to abandon their tribal relations or renounce their essential identity as Indian people. This was no small feat, given the systematic efforts of the United States to undo the tribal bond.
And so today, the Chinook rejoin the family of Tribal Nations acknowledged by the United States. We welcome the Chinook people who have come here today to witness this event. This is now your home when you come to Washington, and you are always welcome here. For those Chinooks who couldn’t be here today, this is your day, too. And for the Chinooks who began the work of this petition but are no longer with us, this is your day, too. Indeed, for those Chinooks who refused to leave, who refused to assimilate, and who sought to preserve the heritage of their grandmothers and grandfathers, this is their day, too. We are honored to have you with us here today as we begin anew our government-to-government friendship.