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Spokane Tribe To Be Compensated for Grand Coulee Dam Construction


Nearly 80 years after the completion of Grand Coulee Dam, the Spokane Tribe will finally receive compensation for losses it suffered from the project.

The tribe lost lands that became submerged under the waters of the Columbia River. It also lost the salmon runs that had fed their people for centuries.

“It basically was devastating to our tribal people, it affected our life, our culture, our economy, spiritual practices because this all centered around the rivers, even our language," said Carol Evans, the chair of the tribe's business council.  "However, our families impacted by the loss of land were devastated also, because they lost their homes, their gardens, they had to move up to land that was less fertile." She says promises were made for years by government officials that the tribe would receive some form of compensation.

Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a compensation bill that had passed the Senate last summer. Evans says that shows the bipartisan support for the measure.

She says tribal officials will make a future determination as to how the money will be spent.

“What we look forward to in the future is to be able to focus on the needs of the tribal people. The health, education, welfare, the children, the elders, our language, those are all important things, and in each one of those, there are needs,” she said.

She says the tribe will receive annual compensation of approximately 6 million dollars per year.