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Sunday, August 13, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


Settlement would give land to tribe for reburial

Seattle Times staff reporter

Gov. Christine Gregoire is expected to commit Monday to the permanent transfer of land to the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe for reburial of remains of more than 335 of its ancestors unearthed during a state construction project.

The state Department of Transportation walked away from its dry-dock project on the Port Angeles waterfront at the request of the tribe in December 2004, after spending about $90 million.

The transfer of the Port Angeles property is part of a complex settlement agreement, reached with the help of a professional mediator after nearly a year of talks foundered in lawsuits between the state and the tribe.

As part of the agreement, the tribe will be paid $500,000 in state funds up front, and another $2 million later, money that it may use for reburial or for a curation facility for more than 10,000 artifacts recovered from the site if it chooses.

The state also committed to seeking $7.5 million for the city and another $7.5 million for the port in the state capital budget for economic development. The port of Port Angeles will also receive a portion of the 22-acre site, now owned by the state, for development.

The department must remove steel sheet piles driven into the ground at the construction site, and take out concrete paving that covers part of the ground. Tribal construction monitors will observe the work to watch for burials or artifacts during the remediation.

Material trucked to a Port Angeles landfill will also be returned to the site, so it may be screened for artifacts or any human remains.

The settlement now goes to a judge for review.

Allyson Brooks, the state's historic preservation officer, was hopeful about the agreement Saturday.

"It gives us a better path forward with balancing cultural-resources protection with economic development," Brooks said.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company



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