Editorial: Reward Chinook Nation good deeds with federal status
"The Chinook Nation, represented in the replica plankhouse on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, wants to permanently preserve its culture by receiving federal recognition as a tribe.

U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, D-Vancouver, introduced a bill (HR 3084) calling for federal recognition through the ”Chinook Nation Restoration Act,” on July 31, 2008. Federal recognition had been approved by the Clinton administration on Jan. 3, 2001, but the Bush administration removed it on July 5, 2002, after territorial and tribal objections by the Quinault Indians. Baird is still fighting for its passage.

“The No. 1 concern is that recognition provide health care for our people,” said tribal chairman Ray Gardner at the time. Tribal population is estimated at 2,500 to 2,700 members. Most live in Pacific and Wahkiakum counties, with a sprinkling in Clark and Cowlitz counties.

Interestingly, it was a canoe experience in November 1805,by explorers Lewis and Clark, that should help the Chinooks achieve federal recognition.

The explorers were pinned for six days against the north shore of the Columbia River just east of the Astoria-Megler bridge site. Rain had fallen for days; the expedition was short on food and drift logs threatened to smash their canoes.

An expedition journal entry notes: “Five Indians came down in a canoe loaded with fish … called Red Charr … we purchased 13 of these fish, for which we have fishing hooks and some trifling things …” The Chinooks traded with them at what came to be known as Dismal Nitch. Then they helped the explorers through the hard winter of 1805-06 at Fort Clatsop on the Oregon shore."

Get the Story:
Tom Koenninger: Chinook have earned recognition (The Columbian 8/18)

Chinook Recognition Bill:
H.R.2576: Chinook Nation Restoration Act

Related Stories:
Opinion: Chinook Nation deserving of federal recognition (1/20)
Chinook Nation optimistic on federal recognition (7/16)
Audio: House hearing on federal recognition bills (7/15)
Washington tribes clash on federal recognition (7/15)
Witness list for hearing on four recognition bills (7/14)
House hearing on four federal recognition bills (7/13)
House panel tackles more federal recognition bills (7/8)
Chinook chair eyes recognition in three years (6/23)
Editorial: It's time to recognize the Chinook Nation (5/27)
Chinook Nation to lobby for recognition in DC (5/26)
House bill introduced to recognize Chinook Nation (5/22)
Editorial: Move quickly on Chinook recognition (1/29)