By Cary Rosenbaum of the CUJ,
KENNEWICK – In referencing the aspirations to work together with the City of Kennewick, Board of Trustees member Armand Minthorn recalled the discovery of Kennewick Man, a 9,000-year-old ancestor of the Columbia Plateau Tribes who gained world interest for more than 20 years.
“Not too far from here, Kennewick Man was discovered,” he said from a podium in Columbia Park. “Many of you remember that. So this place that we’re at, homeland. We live side by side here. Let’s work with each other. Let’s help one another. Creator we ask these things today.”
The event brought together leaders from the Board of Trustees and City of Kennewick. City Council members Bill McKay, Chuck Torelli, City Manager Marie Mosely as well as staff members from the City of Kennewick.
City of Kennewick acknowledged the Port of Kennewick regarding the strong partnership between the entities and the Tribes.
Kennewick Mayor Don Britton said he was happy to speak on such a historic
day for the city.
“I’d like to express my appreciation to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Board of Trustees for their travel today, and for opening our ceremony with a blessing,” he said. “I am also appreciative of this beautiful day, and to be here at our river shore. This is such an important gathering place for all of us, and it’s the perfect setting to meet for this significant occasion.
“We feel extremely honored that we’ve finalized this agreement. The Memorandum of Understanding we’ve signed this afternoon really is just another important step to further strengthen our existing partnership and formalize our government to government relationship.”
Board of Trustees Chair Kat Brigham – along with fellow tribal leaders Minthorn, Jeremy Wolf, Jill-Marie Gavin and Lindsey Watchman – said the MOU passed unanimously.
“Not one Board member said no,” she said. “We wanted to move forward with working with this relationship. This is a partnership, as they stated. The Tribe has gone a long ways in development partnerships, collaborations, and how to resolve issues and finding solutions.
“This is our ceded area,” Brigham continued. “When our treaty was signed in 1855, we gave up 6.4 million acres. And this is part of this area that we gave up for our reservation located in northeastern Oregon. So we have a lot of history here. We have a lot of ties here. And we don’t want to lose them. And that’s why we’re looking forward to this memorandum. Not only for today, but for the future.”
Brigham gave a brief history of the Board of Trustees and tribal constitution, before focusing on natural resources.
“All of our natural resources are important and that’s why we’re really pleased in this partnership, in that we’re going to be working together on our natural resources,” she said. “But you also need to know that economics is also important, and we thrive on being diverse. And if you ever make it to Pendleton, Oregon, out to Mission, to our reservation, you will see we are diverse, and we’re working again for the future, for our children, and our children’s children.”
Britton re-emphasized the importance of the MOU.
“For someone just looking at this document, it may seem like it’s just a lot of words, and that can easily get lost in what the true meaning of this document is,” he said. “While this document does provide a meaningful and formalized structure for our partnership, behind those words are people, people who want to work together for our future. We have long recognized that our successes come through collaboration. Strong working relationships always take us beyond what we could have ever accomplished on our own.
“So this is an exciting moment to be further fostering just such a relationship and partnership. We look forward to the ways in which we can further economic opportunities, perpetuate cultural heritage and overall continue to pursue our mutual interests with mutual understanding.”