Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Annual Centennial Accord Meeting—Introductory Remarks
November 3, 2003
Good afternoon. Thank you for coming here today to discuss the Centennial Accord. We remain committed to honoring and serving our government-to-government relationship and ongoing dialogue. I hope you found this morning’s discussions to be helpful and productive.
I am pleased that my Chief of Staff, Tom Fitzsimmons, has been able to attend this meeting for the entire day. Tom’s presence here reflects the importance we attach to this annual meeting.
We have made considerable progress in state-tribal relations and initiatives these past several years. We remain committed to and concerned about the economic and social well-being of the tribes and their communities. Most tribal economies have improved over the past several years. Gaming has been a significant factor in this economic development.
I have signed seven compacts with tribes from all over the state. We have had success with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Indian Child Welfare, and protecting cultural and archeological resources with legislation that allows harsher penalties.
We have also made progress in the natural resources area. I am proud to say that in spite of tough economic times, we have maintained our commitment to natural resources. Significant achievements include:
· Reduced mercury pollution
· Advanced shoreline protection
· Funded $2 million for improving critical shoreline plans
· Established permanent funding for the Neah Bay rescue tug.
These are not state government successes, or tribal successes. They are our shared successes. These accomplishments are the result of collaboration and hard work.
Along with great progress, there are areas in which we must continue to work. One such area is water resource legislation.
We will be having a dialogue later in this meeting about natural resources and water issues. We are aware of the demands this issue places on both governments. We must find ways to update the state water code without infringing upon tribal water. There is a balance to be struck, and we will try to find it.
The state has an obligation to respect and honor tribal treaty rights. This centennial accord symbolizes our respect for that commitment. We also have a responsibility to continue improving our water code. We plan to address “use it or lose it” and instream flows in the upcoming session. Your review and advice on these issues will be welcome.
Over the next year, I would like to work with the tribes in developing better ways to implement the Centennial Accord. We must have better tools for the state and tribes to address water issues together. Together, we can leave the next Governor and the tribes in a better position to work together successfully on water issues.
These issues are a good opportunity to use our experience to improve implementation of the Centennial Accord. The Accord is intended to address a broad range of topics. It is up to us, working together, to improve the ways in which we implement it.
In the discussion we will have later on, I look forward to an exchange of ideas. We are here in the spirit of cooperation and commitment. I am confident that we can continue to resolve disagreements in ways that best serve our mutual interests.
I appreciate your participation in this meeting and dialogue today, as well as your ongoing commitment to effective government-to-government relations between the tribes and the state.