Cama Beach will open in June, over tribes’ objections

State parks officials plan to open Cama Beach State Park on the first day of summer this year, despite repeated objections from local American Indian tribes.

The June 21 grand opening will be a victory for state parks officials and outdoors enthusiasts eager to vacation on the island, but it will be a symbol of disappointment for the tribes, who say the site is sacred to them and should be left alone.

The tribes have been given an opportunity to take part in planning an interpretive center that would share the tribes’ perspective, said Virginia Painter, a spokeswoman for the state Parks and Recreation Department.

“That was part of the vision of the park,” she said. “There’s a lot of stories to be told there, and that’s one of them.”

Long before white settlers came to Western Washington, Indians used the beach, which is on the western side of Camano Island, as a fishing and camping spot. Later, in the early to mid 1900s, the site was used as a seasonal fishing village, then as a camping resort.

The family who owned the resort sold the property to Washington State Parks in the late 1990s, and plans were made to open a state park there in 1999.

The Tulalip Tribes asked that work at the site be stopped in 2002, after remains believed to be Indian were found at the site. The request sparked a string of court actions, but the state was eventually allowed to move forward with its plans.

The parks department plans to hold a meeting for its commissioners near Cama Beach State Park on April 24. Several commissioners will stay in the park’s renovated cabins, Painter said.

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