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Chinook Tribes Employ New Tactic In Ongoing Quest For Federal Recognition


The Chinook Indian Nation has lent its name to a salmon, a fur-trade jargon, a warm wind and even a twin-motor military and firefighting helicopter. They play large roles in the histories of Lewis and Clark and the Hudson’s Bay Company.

But what the five tribes that make up the nation — Cathlamet, Clatsop, Lower Chinook, Wahkaikum and Willapa — don’t have are a treaty or a reservation. Since the late ‘70s, the nation has pushed for recognition, initially going through a decades-long process that saw the Bureau of Indian Affairs grant them recognition only to reverse its decision months later. The tribes have also attempted (with little success) to pass a bill through Congress granting them official status.

Now, Tribal Chairman Tony Johnson is taking a new approach. Every day for the last three months, he’s sent President Barack Obama a letter requesting clarification of tribal status via executive order. 

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