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BIA approves addition of White Horse Golf Course to Port Madison Indian Reservation
SUQUAMISH — The Port Madison Indian Reservation has been expanded by 283 acres to include all of White Horse Golf Course. The Bureau of Indian Affairs announced the change in a proclamation issued Feb. 28.
It’s the first expansion of the reservation since 1864 and is another step in the Suquamish Tribe’s efforts to reacquire land lost during the allotment era.
“We are proud, happy and grateful to hear that Assistant Secretary [Kevin] Washburn has approved our request to enlarge the boundary of the Port Madison Indian Reservation to include the White Horse Golf Course,” Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman said in an announcement released by the Tribe.
“Our ancestral leaders, including Chief Seattle, Chief Wahalchu and the other treaty signers trusted the federal government to honor our contract. Our people have endured many hardships resulting from misguided federal policies that enabled sale of our lands and this proclamation, adding land back to our reservation, is a significant step towards reconciliation.”
Purchased by the Tribe in 2010, White Horse comprises 396 acres that straddle the original reservation boundary. The newly incorporated 283-acre section includes portions of the golf course, a green belt and a walking trail. Spokeswoman April Leigh said the Suquamish Tribe has no current plans to further develop the property.
The Suquamish Tribe sought to incorporate the section contiguous to the reservation to improve regulation and management of the parcel. The proclamation allows the Tribe to treat the entire golf course as reservation property, making management and stewardship more streamlined.
Like many Treaty Tribes, the Suquamish continue to face significant challenges in reacquiring reservation lands taken out of Tribal ownership as a result of the assimilation policies of the previous century, including the federally sponsored sale of reservations lands to non-Natives. In Suquamish, these policies resulted in the loss of 14 miles of reservation waterfront and more than 5,000 acres of Suquamish landholdings.
The Suquamish Tribe is a federally-recognized sovereign nation. It is a signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855. The Suquamish Tribe government offices are located in Suquamish village on the Port Madison Indian Reservation. The Suquamish Tribe government maintains and operates a number of public services for Tribal members and residents, including a museum, parks, police and marine facilities, and a school. Its economic development arm, Port Madison Enterprises, is one of the largest private-sector employers in Kitsap County.