(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the passage of their legislation, the Hoh Indian Tribe Safe Homelands Act, through the U.S. House of Representatives. This new law will transfer approximately 37 acres of land owned by the National Park Service to the Tribe to allow the tribe to move out of a tsunami zone and flood plain. The legislation passed the Senate by unanimous consent on September 30, 2010, and will now be sent to President Obama for his signature.

“I am so glad that the Hoh Tribe is going to finally get the relief they deserve,” said Senator Patty Murray. “The Hoh Tribe has had to witness their homes and land wash away with the rain and relentless flooding for far too long. This new law will provide the Hoh Tribe with a safe place to rebuild their community and I was proud to work hard with Senator Cantwell and Congressman Dicks to make it a reality.”

“For too long, the location of the Hoh reservation left the Tribe's land and homes vulnerable to the whims of Mother Nature,” said Senator Cantwell, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “With this bill, we now ensure they can safely rebuild their communities on higher lands and focus on future growth and prosperity, instead of just survival.”

“This news could not have come at a better time for the Hoh Tribe,” said Maria Lopez, Chairwoman of the Hoh Indian Tribe. “We nearly avoided yet another flooding this past weekend, and the rainy season is upon us.  This continuous threat makes the urgency to implement this legislation all the more immediate.  We hope that President Obama will expeditiously sign the bill, and once that is done, we look forward to working with the various agencies on implementation to formally place the land into trust and begin help in relocating and rebuilding our Village”

Chairwoman Lopez continued, “Words can't express the joy that I feel for our people of the Hoh Village.  I want to thank the bill's sponsors, Congressman Norm Dicks and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as co-sponsor Congressman Tom Cole. 

“On the State level, we of course want to thank Governor Christine Gregoire - the sponsor of the State enabling legislation - and many others on the State and local government level including State Senator James Hargrove, State Rep. Lynn Kessler, State Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, State Senator Margarita Prentice, State Senator Claudia Kauffman, State Rep. Hans Dunshee, State Rep. Judy Warnick, and Jefferson County Commissioners Phil Johnson, David Sullivan, and John Austin.”

Murray and Cantwell introduced their legislation in February of 2009. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Norm Dicks.

The Hoh Tribe currently occupies a one square mile reservation on the banks of the Hoh River, where it meets the Pacific Ocean.  Ninety percent of the Reservation now sits in a flood plain and 100 percent of the land they live on sits within a Tsunami zone. The Reservation’s acreage has been reduced over the years due to flood and storm events.