We are proud of how the Snoqualmie Tribe has responded through the challenges we face, and we know that we will grow stronger as a community in many ways as we continue to adapt and survive. Thanks to the Tribe’s persistence and hard work, we have been able to provide for Tribal Members, our dedicated employees, and the general public.
The Snoqualmie people have always demonstrated perseverance and resilience in times such as these. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tribal Council has had to make numerous difficult decisions. In making decisions, Tribal leadership has relied on the teachings of our elders and our community values to do what is right. We have strived to put people above profits, by finding ways to care for our members, employees, and customers.
We are proud of how the Snoqualmie Tribe has responded through the challenges we face, and we know that we will grow stronger as a community in many ways as we continue to adapt and survive. Thanks to the Tribe’s persistence and hard work, we have been able to provide for our Tribal Members, our dedicated employees, and the greater community.
Tribal Government Response to COVID-19
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Tribe took swift action in order to protect and support our community. Knowing that the Tribe’s response to COVID-19 would be ongoing and would need to adapt quickly, the Tribal Council shifted to working exclusively on COVID-19 related work. The Tribal Council’s goals throughout this process were to:
- Protect the health and well-being of Tribal Members, and the resources needed to provide services throughout the pandemic and beyond (i.e. not cut any Tribal benefits);
- Ensure that the Tribal Government could continue to operate efficiently and effectively, even as folks shifted to telecommuting;
- Protect and support Tribal staff whose hard work ensures our businesses and government are as successful as they are; and
- Protect Tribal assets, buildings and lands throughout the closure.
Tribal Member Assistance
In addition to the Supplemental General Welfare COVID-19 Assistance funds issued to Tribal families, the Tribe introduced a few programs and events to support Tribal Members throughout the pandemic:
- Food Donations
- Tribal Elder Care Packages
- Self-Care Packages and PPE
- Educational Materials
- Direct Assistance – housing, education, and other COVID-related assistance
- Expansion of online materials and resources
Snoqualmie Tribe COVID-19 Efforts & News Items
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Snoqualmie Tribe has been a national leader in making sure that Tribal Governments received assistance funds promised to them, a state leader in advocating for a fuel tax proclamation, and on a local level with food donations.
Click on each of the headings below to learn more.
Recognizing the need to take decisive action, Snoqualmie joined five other Indian tribes from across the country in a lawsuit filed by our legal counsel Kilpatrick Townsend pro bono against the Secretary of Treasury in Federal Court in Washington, D.C., seeking to force the Secretary to release the $8 billion in funds without further delay. Five days after the case was filed, Treasury finally released 60% of the funds to Tribes, based on HUD population data for COVID-19 relief. On June 15, 2020, after further arguments before the Court to hold the Secretary’s feet to the fire, Treasury released most of the remaining funds based on employment and FY 2019 expenditure data, Then, on June 17, 2020, the Court granted Snoqualmie’s requested injunction and ordered Treasury to release the remaining $679 Million Treasury was unlawfully withholding, resulting further distributions to tribes.
This case is a huge win for Snoqualmie (and all of Indian Country) as it enables the Tribal Council to immediately provide funds to support COVID-19 recovery and to be able to plan for how best to spend the funds by December 31, 2020.
Donation to Schools and Food Banks
4,000 Frozen Meals Help Provide Safety Net for Those in Need
In the midst of our ongoing, shared health crisis, the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe and Snoqualmie Casino have worked to source 4,000 frozen meals that will be distributed through local community partners to provide food assistance to those in need.
Our community partners include:
• Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank
• Fall City Community Pantry
• Snoqualmie Valley Shelter Services
• Friends of Youth
• Trail Youth, in partnership with Helping Hands and the Snoqualmie Valley School District
An initial 700 meals were distributed to four elementary schools in the Snoqualmie Valley by Helping Hands backpack program in preparation for Spring Break, the week of April 13th. The meals are provided to students who are served through the Snoqualmie Valley School District’s meal distribution program which provides breakfast and lunch to students during the regular scheduled school year but not during school breaks.
“Being fairly new to this community, what has impressed me the most is the generosity of the various businesses, organizations and individuals in the Valley. This is a perfect example of such generosity. I so appreciate the Snoqualmie Tribe’s donation of over 4000 meals to be distributed to our most vulnerable individuals and those most in need,“ said Rob Manahan, Superintendent of the Snoqualmie Valley School District. “The school district, while delivering foods to our students and families over the last few weeks, recognizes the on-going and growing need within our community and are so thankful and appreciative of this generous action by the Snoqualmie Tribe.”
“In this challenging time that is affecting all of us, we feel compelled to do what we can to help our neighbors in the Snoqualmie Valley,” said Snoqualmie Tribal Chairman Robert de los Angeles. “It is only by pulling together that we can steer our way through this crisis to the other side.”
In addition to serving youth in the Valley, these meals have been distributed to local food banks who have been seeing a steady increase in clients seeking nutritional assistance. The food banks have also extended their service to provide support to vulnerable populations including local senior centers.
“Although we are temporarily closed, we feel fortunate that we can still roll up our sleeves and contribute to our community’s recovery,” said Snoqualmie Casino Interim CEO and President Stanford Le.
Tribal Fuel Tax Proclamation
Proclamation Authorizes Tribe’s Request for Increased Flexibility on Spending of Revenue of Fuel Sales
The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe is celebrating a proclamation issued by Governor Jay Inslee that formalizes State support for a Snoqualmie proposal to allow Tribes increased flexibility to utilize proceeds from fuel sales to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without costing Washington State taxpayers a cent, the proclamation will allow sovereign Tribes to utilize their own share of proceeds from fuel sales to fund COVID response and mitigation efforts.
“It’s important in times like these that governments work in cooperation to find solutions to serve our communities,” said Snoqualmie Chairman Robert de los Angeles. “We’re seeing that here with the governor supporting our request so that we may continue to serve our community without any cost to the State or its taxpayers.”
Sales of fuel by federally recognized Tribes in Washington State are governed by negotiated agreements with the State called compacts, which direct a portion of proceeds to the State and places a number of limitations on how the Tribes can spend their share their revenue. The Snoqualmie Tribe requested that the Governor consider removing those limitations during this emergency and recognize Tribes’ right to spend those proceeds on COVID-related expenses. This was a request consistent with the spirit of compact language, which explicitly mentions “public safety” as an allowed use for fuel proceeds.
“Tribes in Washington are a significant contributor to the economic vitality of state, and this action provides tribal governments needed flexibility to provide increased COVID-19 response and recovery for their members and surrounding communities,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.
“This proclamation will mean major fiscal relief and increased resources for COVID response for our Tribe, and dozens of other Tribes,” said Snoqualmie Treasurer Christopher Castleberry. “It is also one more successful collaboration with the Inslee Administration, which has worked closely with our Tribe on improving the safety of SR-18, regulating mining of our state’s rivers, and reforming property tax policy.”
Note: The proclamation was originally set to expire on June 27th, 2020. It has since been a number of times, and most recently extended to October 1st 2020.
The program was announced in March, and the funds were highly sought after. The Tribe acted quickly to ensure that it had applications prepared and ready to be submitted. The initial $350 billion approved for the program ran out across the country within two days of being made available by banks.
All three of the Tribe’s eligible businesses were successful in applying for these funds: Crescent Market, Eighth Generation and Salish Lodge.
The PPP funds provided the Tribe with the means to provide payroll to all staff for eight weeks to make sure that staff are taken care of, and continue to have access to health benefits even while operations are severely reduced. This has allowed the Tribe to provide for our dedicated staff, whose hard work supports the Tribe and the greater community in countless ways.