NESPELEM - Testifying remotely with the Washington State Redistricting Commission, June 7, Colville Business Council Chair Rodney Cawston stated he anticipates the Colville Tribes to make a decision regarding a recommendation to the redistricting commission about congressional and legislative districts later this year.

“You can see how both Ferry County and Okanogan County cut right down the center of our reservation and that boundary puts our reservation in two different congressional districts,” said Cawston, speaking as a member of a three-person panel presenting to the commission. “This has been an issue for our tribe and looking at making that decision that will last for 10 years we want to make that very carefully.”

In response to a question regarding the tribal process, Cawston reiterated: “There are a number of different issues, and we want to take a look at all this and make the decision that is right for our people and puts us in the best position possible.”

Washington State redraws the boundaries of its congressional and state legislative electoral districts every 10 years after the federal government publishes updated census information.

The bipartisan Washington State Redistricting Commission was established through legislative action to facilitate the redrawing process and through 2021 the commission has held a series of meetings and outreach events to begin the redistricting process.

In April, the commission adopted a tribal consultation policy, working closely with the Governor’s Commission on Tribal Affairs and the June 7 meeting came, as Commission Chair Sarah Augustine described, as an effort “to provide additional nuance to what we learned from the Governor’s Commission on Tribal Affairs to provide and engage in tribal consultation.”

The Colville Reservation currently sits in both the 7th and 12th legislative districts with Ferry County and the north part of Okanogan County being the 7th District and the southern part of Okanogan County being in the 12th district.

The Colville Reservation also currently sits 4th and 5th congressional districts with Ferry County being in the 5th and Okanogan County being in the 4th.

“Our census went really well this year. I think we had over 80 percent response rate and we are really looking forward to that information coming out,” said Cawston. 

Along with Cawston, Leonard Forsman, Suguamish Tribal Chair, and Dana Miller, Yakama Nation Tribal Council member, sat on the tribal panel.

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