Confederated Tribes of The Colville

The Colville Confederated Tribes are comprised of 12 bands which include, the Moses-Columbia, San poil, Nespelem, Methow, Entiat, Colville, Lakes, Wenatchee (Wenatchi), Chief Joseph’s Band of Nez Perce, Palus, Southern Okanogan, and Chelan.

At the proposal of some of the tribal council members, the Colvilles approved on September 5 an amendment to their tribal laws to allow same-sex marriage, thus becoming the sixth Amerindian community to recognize this right.

Although not all members of the tribal council were present, there was no vote against the amendment to the tribal regulations that opened the institution of marriage to same-sex couples. Council Chairman Michael Finley explained that the Colville culture has always accepted the existence of people who are attracted to others of the same sex, whom they call “people with two spirits.” The reform of tribal laws is therefore aimed at converting this acceptance into respect and effective equality.

This reform not only affects the members of the tribe, but anyone who works for them in the reserve will be able to register their same-sex spouse to obtain the pertinent benefits. It should also be noted that the repeal of section 3 of the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act, the norm that prohibited the federal administration from recognizing marriages between people of the same sex) makes marriages between people of the same sex, celebrated in tribes where they are allowed, they are fully recognized by the federal authority, and that, therefore, they can enjoy the broad federal benefits that other marriages enjoy.

One of the members of the Tribal Council is Lois Trevino, an open-minded lesbian, who in a press release expressed her satisfaction with the following words: «This resolution makes me feel stronger, since it validates my relationship, and the relationships of all the same-sex couples, and that makes me feel more secure by offering protection and recognition for my family.

The Confederate Tribes of the Colville Reservation bring together the descendants of twelve different communities, numbering about 9,300 people. Its territory is in the state of Washington, where same-sex marriage is legal since its entry into force on December 6, 2012, although the tribe has absolute competence to establish its own laws in this regard.

The Colvilles thus expand the list of Amerindian communities that have approved marriage equality. The first to do so were the Coquille (Oregon), who approved it in 2008. In 2011, the Suquamish (also from Washington) joined. And in this 2013 the Little Traverse Bay Bands (Michigan), Santa Ysabel Tribe (California) and Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians (Michigan) have done the same.

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