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Chinook hearing shows renewed passion for justice

The Chinook Tribe’s tenacious efforts to survive as distinctive original residents of this place — and to convince bureaucrats of their legal existence — could form the basis of an intricate legal tome, a multi-part television documentary or a tragic opera.

The drama entered a new chapter last week in the form of a federal District Court hearing in Tacoma. The legal arguments, as they often are, were dry and based on fairly subtle points. But the setting leading up to the hearing could hardly have been more interesting. Newspaper, radio and television reporters were on hand to record the scene as Chinook members and dozens of supporters from other Northwest tribes drummed, sang and spoke in the courthouse plaza. Once Tacoma’s magnificent train station, it was possible to imagine the location now serving as a departure platform for a more just future for the Columbia River estuary’s iconic tribe.


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