In 2002, when the U.S. government rescinded the Chinook Indian Nation’s status as a federally recognized tribe, we lost our right to self-determination and lost access to resources and services.
support federal recognition
When a tribe is federally recognized, it has a government-to-government relationship with the United States. In return for taking our lands to which we have aboriginal rights, the U.S. promised to provide tribes with protections and benefits — including housing, health care access, utilities, food. Without federal recognition, we are denied these much needed resources and services.
Over the last 20 years, our lack of federal recognition has cost the Chinook Indian Nation economic opportunities, educational opportunities, and countless lives.
How a Lack of Federal Recognition Impacts Our Community Every Day
During the pandemic, many Chinook people of Washington and Oregon suffered and too many died. Unlike our neighboring tribes, we did not receive CARES Act funding to ease the burden of COVID-19 in our already struggling community.
Access to Health Care
Without federal recognition, our elders and children can’t access health care through Indian Health Services/Contract Health. Too many of our members do not have insurance, and many Chinook people have died due to inadequate health care.
Access to Mental Health Care
Due to the trauma caused by centuries of injustice, our community suffers from mental health issues, incarceration, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide. Our people are not able to access the mental health and social services they need to heal.
Indian Trust Lands
Our ancestors were given lands as allotments. As elders pass away, their heirs are not considered Indian by law and cannot inherit the land, and Chinook people will lose lands that have been in our families for generations, where families build community on intergenerational properties and steward the land for financial stability.
Because we are not federally recognized, our youth are ineligible for scholarships set aside specifically for tribal students — hindering our youth from accessing the education they deserve.
Indian Child Welfare Act Protection
Chinook children and families do not have protection under the Indian Child Welfare Act, which seeks to keep Indian children with Indian families. Our children can be removed from our community and placed in care outside of the Chinook sphere, without common cultural understandings and experiences to support them.
Many Chinook community members live in subpar housing, live in extended family situations or “couch surf” to have a roof over their heads. Without federal recognition, we miss out on housing opportunities and benefits.
Tsunami Threat Mitigation
Without federal recognition, we can’t protect our coast from climate change and the threat of tsunamis. Other coastal tribes are actively receiving assistance and funding to relocate infrastructure and housing to higher ground. We can’t relocate despite the threat of tsunami, and our community members are at great risk.
Federal Stimulus Funding
The government’s federal stimulus legislation allocated an unprecedented and unlikely-to-be-repeated $43 billion to improve health care and education, provide broadband support, and address other vital needs across some of the U.S.’s poorest tribal communities. Without federal recognition, the Chinook Indian Nation cannot access any of those funds to help our people.
Federally recognized tribes can access federal benefits like housing, utilities, food, and other basic needs — benefits that are critical to the survival of tribes across the country.
Support Federal Recognition
You can help us fight for Chinook justice. Tens of thousands of Americans have already written letters and signed petitions in support of the Chinook Indian Nation.
Sign the Petition
Show that you support federal recognition of the Chinook Indian Nation.