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S’Klallam Tribe continues to make economic progress

LITTLE BOSTON — As the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe strives to revitalize its heritage, it has become clear from the tribe’s 2007 annual report the effort is continuing in a positive and determined direction.

And while tribal officials look to their past to rebuild the culture for future generations, several new projects are coming to the forefront that will change the tribe in more modern ways. Both economic, in the way of a new casino and retail center, and cultural, a new arts center, improvements are in the planning stages currently and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal Chairman Ron Charles said they will help the tribe catch up with the growing population in the community.

“The only thing I think we’re sure of as far as projects for the area is the casino,” he said. “We know we need a better facility, ours is pretty maxed out.”

The current 22,000-square foot casino, boasting 525 machines, has had trouble handling the influx of residents and visitors. The tribe is examining if it would be prudent to match the casino with a retail complex as well, but the design and planning is still in its early stages, said tribal associate director Laurie Mattson.

“On the business front, we are in the process of finalizing plans to develop and construct a new casino to support our existing and expanded market,” tribal Chief Executive Officer Doug Quade stated in the report. “We are in the process of planning infrastructure development for a business park to attract high tech and professional companies interested in utilizing our fiber (optics) and taking advantage of doing business on an Indian reservation.”

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is not only working on its economic status, but also on capitalizing its cultural resources as well. With the completion of the House of Knowledge complex coming in the next few months, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal Foundation is reviewing designs for an art center that will showcase local artwork, Mattson said.

“We’re very proud of the accomplishments of the tribe in 2006,” she said. “The casino will probably be the economic front, we’re looking to other things for the cultural revitalization. We’re looking at a tribal arts center, and we’re in the early stages of designing and planning that.”

In addition, the tribe also celebrated a long-awaited $ 2.75 million settlement with Kitsap County and Waste Management of Washington, Inc. regarding the Hansville Landfill and contamination that spread on to the reservation from the capped dump site. Approximately 300 acres of tribal land are currently unusable because of the chemical contamination from the landfill site.

“I guess the settlement with the county for the Hansville Landfill,” Charles said of one of the aspects of the report he was proud of. “It’s really great to have that behind us. A few short years ago, it looked like it wasn’t going anywhere.”

The money from the settlement will go toward paying off 390 acres of land the tribe purchased in November 2004 from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

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