Spokane City Council Formally Acknowledges City Hall Built On Tribal Land

Mar 23, 2021

The Spokane City Council has unanimously voted to acknowledge the injustices committed against Native Americans and that City Hall sits on is tribal land.

During Monday’s city council meeting, Councilwoman Karen Stratton, whose mother was a Spokane Tribe member, said she was proud of the resolution, and the commitment it represents.

“This is a very heartfelt proclamation to publicly honor and respect not only the Spokane tribe, but all tribal people, and to respect the land that we inhabit, which is Spokane tribal land,” she said.

She said she hopes it will lead to more collaborations between the tribal government and the city, and more economic opportunity.

Warren Seyler, a Spokane Tribe member and tribal history educator, said the area that is now City Hall and Riverfront part are very culturally significant to the tribe.

“For thousands of years, the Spokane, the salmon and the river lived together as one,” he said. ”That occurred at the city of Spokane, it wasn’t the only site, but it was a major site. All these fish were coming to feed us, it was our lifeline. Our spiritualty, songs and ceremonies, were based on those fish. They were based on the spirit of the fish and based on the spirit of the river, because that was bringing us life.”

He said before they were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands, the Spokane tribe had 10,000-year tradition of fishing and gathering together in this area.

“Immigrants or Americans when they arrived, why they wanted the river, they wanted it for the power,” he said, “to turn grist mills, to make electricity, and mills for building lumber. The Indians were in the way for what they termed progress. So the tribal people had to be pushed out.”

The resolution will also mean the chairwoman of the Spokane Tribe will give a presentation on the state of the environment every year. She is scheduled to speak on the region’s air, land and water April 19.

A representative from Spokane’s urban Indian population will also give a presentation on Indigenous People’s Day. The resolution calls on the mayor’s office to appoint a tribal liaison as well.