The city of Pasco and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are cooperating as tribal work advances toward creating a casino or other economic development in northeast Pasco.
One possibility is a water park, with tribal officials saying that is open for discussion and could be a valuable service to the Tri-Cities region, given our hot summers.
Initially, the Colville Tribes could put in a convenience store and gas station on the land while further plans are made, they said earlier.
Discussions are in the early stages on how 184 acres near the King City Truck Stop could be developed.
“We haven’t made any firm decisions,” said Rodney Cawston, chairman of the Colville Business Council. “We want to interact with local officials.”
The Colville Tribes are interested in development that would support local businesses, as the tribes build relationships with the Tri-Cities community, he said.
The land the tribes now own is to the east of Highway 395 just north of the Kartchner Street exit on Capitol Avenue.
The Colvilles’ major focus now is working with the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs to convert the land to federal trust status for the benefit of tribal members.
The time needed to complete the transfer to federal trust status will depend on possible issues that come up, such as whether cultural resources are found on the land or an environmental study is needed.
Tribal officials also have been meeting with Tri-Cities area officials, including those with the city of Pasco.
Meetings have been held in Pasco and in Nespelem on the Colville Indian Reservation north of the Grand Coulee Dam leading to the tribes and the Pasco City Council each signing an agreement in principle that lays out the intent to work cooperatively.
A public signing ceremony is planned at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Pasco Red Lion.
Among areas of cooperation could be the tribes’ financial or other assistance to Pasco for increased expenses for law enforcement or fire services needed because of the development of the property.
The Colville Tribes said part of the reason for buying the Pasco property was to bring the Palus Band and other tribal members back to their homeland.
One of the 12 tribes that make up the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation is the Palus, whose traditional homelands include the Tri-Cities area.
Palus to share culture
“The Palus people lived in this part of the country for millennia, and their connection to their historic territory is strong to this day,” Cawston said. “The word ‘Pasco’ is in fact derived from the Palus place name ‘Pasxa.’ ”
The new agreement covers efforts to expand public awareness in the Tri-Cities about the Colville Tribes, the Palus Tribe and their history and cultures through exhibits and presentations.
The city and tribes also have agreed to work cooperatively on tourism promotion.
“The city is looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with the Colville Tribes as we work together for the betterment of our communities,” said Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell.
The Colville Tribes also are interested in working cooperatively with Tri-City agencies on workforce training.
One of the goals of developing the tribal land in Pasco is to provide employment for Colville members and members of other tribes in the area, as well as for the surrounding communities in general.
Several hundred members of the Colville Tribes live in the Tri-Cities area. About 9,500 people are enrolled in the Colville Tribes.
The Colville Tribes already have casinos in Omak, Coulee Dam and Manson, Washington.
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