The Snoqualmie Tribe has implemented a leading-edge tax at the Salish Lodge & Spa. The Tribe’s new Land Protection Tax is believed to be the first in North America.
As a federally-recognized tribe, the Snoqualmie Tribal government has the sovereign right to assess and collect taxes from activities on its lands.
The Tribe purchased the Salish Lodge & Spa and adjacent lands in the fall of 2019 for $125 million to prevent the previous owner, another King County tribe, from constructing hundreds of homes and a convention center it had planned to build on land sacred to the Snoqualmie Tribe.
The Snoqualmie Tribe has publicly opposed and protested projects threatening its most sacred site –Snoqualmie Falls – for decades, including Puget Sound Energy’s hydropower facility, which diverts water from going over the Falls.
The 2% Lands Protection Tax is collected on sales at the Salish Lodge & Spa. The Tribal Council will allocate tax revenue for projects and expenses associated with the Tribal government’s work to protect the Tribe’s ancestral lands. “This Lands Protection Tax directly exercises the Tribe’s sovereignty and demonstrates our values,” said Tribal Chairman Robert M. de los Angeles. “Those who visit the Lodge can take pride in knowing that their dollars directly support the Tribe’s work to protect and restore our ancestral lands and sacred sites.”
The Tribe has invested heavily in reacquiring and protecting its ancestral lands after never receiving the reservation the United States promised the Tribe in the 1930s.
In the summer of 2021, the Tribe launched the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement, through which the Tribe shares information about Snoqualmie Tribal culture and perspectives related to land, encouraging individuals to recreate mindfully and respectfully.
In early 2022, the Tribe announced it had acquired a 12,000-acre forest in east King County, renamed the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Forest. Managed as a commercial tree farm for over 150 years, the Tribe is now managing the lands in accordance with its values, founded in restoration and reciprocity.
Most recently, in April 2023, the Tribe and Salish Lodge & Spa reopened the old gift shop, renamed the sdukʷalbixʷ Snoqualmie Falls Gift Shop & Visitor Center. At the completely renovated space, individuals can watch videos and view materials about the Tribe’s connection to Snoqualmie Falls and its work to protect the sacred site.