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Sunday, April 8, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Appeal filed to block Chinook recognition

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PORTLAND - The hatred between the Quinault and Chinook Indian tribes dates back centuries, and the rivalry continues today.

The Quinault Indian Nation, which has tried for 22 years to be recognized as a legal entity, has filed an appeal in an attempt to block federal recognition of the Chinook Tribe.

The Quinaults contend that the Chinook Tribe no longer exists and that former Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Gover overlooked that when he granted the Chinook federal recognition.

The Quinaults said Gover "abused his discretion" and improperly relied on a consultant's advice in reaching his determination. The appeal was filed with the Department of Interior Board of Indian Appeals.

The appeal also recommended a review of the Chinook acknowledgment in light of a recent Boston Globe story which noted that Gover's decision came days before he took a job with a firm promoting tribal gambling.

The Quinaults asked Interior Secretary Gale Norton to review Gover's decision, but she declined, deciding to let the Interior Board of Indian Appeals settle the matter.

Federal recognition gives tribes access to federal benefits, and could potentially lead to a tribe being allowed to open gambling casinos. Chinook officials have denied they have any desire to get into the industry.

But Dennis Whittlesey, attorney for the Chinooks, said the Quinaults' objection has nothing to do with Gover's actions, but with tribal allotments on the Quinault Reservation where Chinook members have a significant number of allotments.

The Chinooks' roots lie along the banks of the Columbia and Willamette rivers, where tribal members built canoes and excelled as traders and fishermen. The Chinook Tribe was the one that welcomed Lewis and Clark to the mouth of the Columbia in 1804.

The Chinooks signed a treaty with the federal government in 1851, but it was never ratified. An 1855 treaty would have moved the Chinooks from their homeland near the Columbia and Willapa Bay to a coastal reservation shared with the Quinaults, their historic enemies. Chinook tribal leaders refused to sign the agreement.

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