Tribe Urges Federal Regulators to Introduce Flight Restrictions Over Sacred Site
SNOQUALMIE, WA— The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe has appealed to the Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation and the FAA to uphold their trust obligation by introducing flight restrictions over sacred Snoqualmie Falls. The sacred site, which is listed on the National Register as a Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) has experienced a sharp increase in low altitude and unregulated air tours in the past year. The air traffic is disrespectful to the Tribe, and distracting and dangerous to residents and visitors to the Falls.
“The airspace above Snoqualmie Falls is being continuously violated by low-flying helicopter tours that infringe upon our right to enjoy our sacred site,” said Chairman Robert de los Angeles. “These private aviation companies are capitalizing our sacred site and violating our rights as Snoqualmie people to practice our cultural beliefs at the Falls in peace. It is our obligation, as Snoqualmie people, to do everything we can to protect our sacred site from continued harm.”
Snoqualmie Falls lies on the Snoqualmie River within the Snoqualmie Tribe’s ancestral lands and is a sacred site central to the Tribe’s creation story and religious practice. Tribal members have been holding religious and cultural ceremonies at the Falls since time immemorial. Preservation of the Falls and the surrounding area is of the utmost importance to the Tribe, and in 2019 the Tribe purchased the Salish Lodge & Spa and adjacent acreage to stop irresponsible development.
Since spring 2020, the Snoqualmie Tribe has expressed its concerns to the helicopter tour operators that advertise flights above Snoqualmie Falls, including Atomic Helicopters and Helicopters Northwest. Those concerns have been ignored. Now, the Tribe has urged the United States to step in and develop ways to mitigate and abate ongoing harms to Snoqualmie Falls. The Tribe recently made an appeal to the public through its Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement for individuals to file complaints with the FAA.
“We urge members of the public, including residents who live in the area, to report complaints to the FAA via their online complaint tool,” said Tribal Councilmember Christopher Castleberry. “We need a solution that will protect the airspace above Snoqualmie Falls, similar to the airspace restrictions in place over National monuments. We need immediate action in order to ensure that the 2 million plus individuals who visit our sacred site each year are kept safe.”
The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe is a federally recognized tribe in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. Known as the People of the Moon, Snoqualmie were signatories to the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855. Tribal enterprises provide over 1,700 jobs in the Snoqualmie Valley, and the Snoqualmie Tribe has donated more than $10 million to nonprofit organizations in Washington State since 2010. For more information visit www.snoqualmietribe.us
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