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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Governor, tribe agree to negotiations

Associated Press

PORT ANGELES, Wash. – Gov. Christine Gregoire and the head of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe have agreed to formal negotiations early next year on all the issues raised by discovery of remains and relics at the waterfront site planned for development of the Hood Canal Bridge graving yard.

For centuries, the site was occupied by a tribal village.

Tom Fitzsimmons, Gregoire’s chief of staff, said the tribe has agreed to publicly support a state plan to build huge concrete anchors on the shoreward edge of the former graving yard site, which allows the project to move forward through the permitting process.

In return, the state agreed to reimburse the tribe for more than $600,000 in wages paid to 108 of its members for archaeological work at the site, which was occupied by the village Tse-whit-zen until the 1920s, when a sawmill was built there.

The bargain struck Thursday by Gregoire and Chairwoman Frances Charles came one year and one day after construction was halted at the site, where bridge pontoons and anchors were to be built for replacement of the deteriorating east end of the floating Hood Canal Bridge.

The halt, requested by the tribe and approved by state officials, was prompted by the discovery of human remains at the ancient village site.

During the negotiations, all lawsuits the state and the tribe have filed against each other will be on hold, at least until mid-March, Fitzsimmons said.

Unresolved issues – such as preservation of Indian artifacts recovered at the site – will be at the top of the agenda when the tribe and the state begin negotiations, Fitzsimmons said.

Another key issue is disposal of 20,000 cubic yards of earth removed from the site and trucked to the Shotwell Recycling Facility west of Port Angeles. The tribe wants the earth returned to the village site and sifted for ancestral remains and funerary artifacts.

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