Bill to compensate Spokane Tribe for Grand Coulee Dam construction heads to president’s desk

Nearly 80 years after completion of the Grand Coulee Dam, legislation supported by bi-partisan Washington lawmakers could lead to compensation for the Spokane Tribe of Indians.

Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Sen. Maria Cantwell that will provide the tribe “equitable and just compensation for the lands taken by the United States as part of the Grand Coulee Dam development project in the 1930s and 1940s,” according to a news release sent by Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ office.

The Senate has already passed the bill and now heads to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.

“The Spokane Tribe of Indians has waited for almost 80 years to receive just and equitable compensation for the land, life, and culture they lost when the Grand Coulee Dam was constructed,” Sen. Cantwell said. “This corrects a flawed adjudication process that left the Spokane out. Today, the Department of Interior, Republicans, and Democrats stand together to right this historic wrong, which will allow the Tribe to invest in regional economic development opportunities.”

“This is long overdue,” Rep. McMorris Rodgers said. “I’m happy we are finally moving forward to get the Spokane Tribe the compensation they deserve and right this historical wrong.”

The Spokane Tribe of Indians of the Spokane Reservation Equitable Compensation Act authorizes annual payments to be made by the Bonneville Power Administration for past and continuing use of Tribe lands for construction and operation of the Grand Coulee Dam.