granted summary judgment to the
Tribe on liability. In view of the damag-
es potential and because it was the right
thing to do, we settled the Tribe’s claim.
Indian law has many unique features and our regional history provides ample reason to take it into account. Ethno-historians report that our climate was so temperate
and the availability of food and shelter
so abundant that this region we call
the Salish Sea was home to one of the
densest populations of inhabitants anywhere on the continent. They had time
to develop rich art forms and elaborate
social and political structures. They
lived on all our shores and their remains
may be encountered everywhere. Chief
Sealth presciently warned us when he
said his ancestors lived everywhere
among us even after death. NWL
Michael J. Bond has
been a practicing
attorney since 1979.
He was counsel to the
archaeologist in the
Lummi case, has published work on
Indian law, and has been an invited
speaker on Native people cultural
resource issues. He can be reached
1. I tread lightly because, as in all things, it
is dangerous to speak categorically as if all
those who come from the same place share
the same culture. I am still perplexed, for
example, about how difficult it is to truly
communicate when we speak the same language. Therefore, complain away if you are
left out of this very brief analysis or if what
follows doesn’t seem to tell your story.
2. Governor Stevens had imposed the Stevens
Treaties on the tribes living in the territory
we now know as Washington state before he
returned to the East to fight and die in the
Civil War. There is considerable controversy
about whether Chief Sealth’s speech was,
in fact, made. One of the earliest versions
was reported in the Seattle Sunday Star on
October 29, 1887.
3. The scope of imputed damages is undefined.
For example, if 25 graves were disturbed, resulting in 25 violations, and 4,000 enrolled
tribe members sued, would the recoverable
damages be $50 million? What if 250 sets
of remains were disturbed?
4. Carbon date testing from the Semiahmoo
site indicates that this location had been
occupied for over 4,500 years.
5. Whether the grant of jurisdiction to tribal
court for a disturbance of an Indian grave
site located outside of reservation lands
would be sustained is a very interesting
question touching, among other issues,
sovereignty and unextinguished aboriginal
rights, all of which is well beyond the scope
of this article.
6. We had previously argued, also unsuccessfully, that the statute was an unauthorized
exercise of power that was within Congress’s
exclusive and plenary power to govern
relations with the Native American tribes.
Chief Sealth presciently
warned us when he
said his ancestors lived
everywhere among us
even after death.
Article I, sec. 11, of the Washington
Constitution and Art. VIII, sec. 5. 6
Judge Robert Lasnik overruled our
contentions that RCW 27.44.050 was
unconstitutional on its face and as
applied. His rulings and reasons are
set forth in the published opinion, and
in a prior unpublished opinion; he also