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February 25, 2004

Court will re-hear tribe's $6B claim

SEATTLE (AP) -- The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Monday to reconsider its rejection of the Skokomish Tribe's $6 billion claim against the city of Tacoma.

Mary Schroeder, chief judge of the San Francisco-based court, said it would reconsider the case en banc -- meaning 11 of the 9th Circuit's 27 judges will hear the case.

The tribe contends construction of two Skokomish River dams have interfered with its treaty-based fishing rights. Its claim was rejected in June by a three-judge 9th Circuit panel.

The June ruling largely upheld an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Franklin D. Burgess, who found that Tacoma followed federal regulations for licensing the dams and that the statute of limitations had expired on other claims made by the tribe.

The tribe has fought the Cushman Hydroelectric Project for more than 70 years.

In its 1999 lawsuit, the tribe contends the license for the dams was not properly granted and that the project damaged reservation land and violated its fishing rights under the 1855 Treaty of Point No Point.

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