By Stefanie Donahue
The city of Blaine is one step closer to transferring a portion of land on Semiahmoo spit to the Lummi Nation.
During a regular meeting on February 27, Blaine City Council voted unanimously to approve supplemental terms and conditions to a settlement agreement with the Lummi Nation that dates back to June 2001 – the landmark vote leaves just a few agreements in the way before the transfer can take place, said public works director Ravyn Whitewolf.
“This is a big milestone,” Whitewolf said to the city council on Monday. “Now we’re at the point where we have an agreement that everyone is comfortable with.”
The agreement stems from an incident that took place in the late ’90s at Semiahmoo spit, when the city was expanding its existing wastewater treatment facility. Construction crews dug and removed human remains and Lummi artifacts from the site, a former Lummi village, allegedly without notifying the tribe.
The tribe filed a lawsuit against Golder Associates, the company contracted by the city for the oversight of archaeological construction. The Lummi Nation eventually settled with the company for $3.5 million, plus an additional $750,000 to be dispersed among its members. A reburial effort soon followed the settlement agreement.
After the incident, the city of Blaine and the Lummi Nation signed a June 2001 agreement to, in part, transfer the land. Since then, the city has decommissioned the plant and relocated its wastewater treatment facility to Marine Drive.
A few more signatures still stand in the way before the transfer can be finalized, Whitewolf said. However, the vote cast by the council on Monday is a big step.
Whitewolf said the Lummi Nation will acquire a total 80,354 square feet of land on the spit in the agreement. The city will maintain ownership over several easements as well as another 67,070 square feet of the land, she said.
Staff with the city plan to host a signing ceremony once all of the paperwork is in place to complete the transfer, Whitewolf said. A date has yet to be determined.