“Of course we believe in contracts,” says Lower Elwha chairwoman

Port Angeles Mayor Richard Headrick “should know better” than to suggest the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe does not abide by contracts, including any that apply to the Hood Canal Bridge graving yard, Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles said Friday.

In addition, Al Charles Sr., a former Lower Elwha tribal official, said the mayor took his comments out of context.

In a Jan. 21 letter to Gov. Christine Gregoire asking for graving yard construction to resume, Headrick said he was “advised that Frances Charles, as chair for the tribe, does not believe she is bound by the agreement because it was not signed by her.”

Headrick suggested the tribe broke a March 17, 2004, agreement with the state Department of Transportation by calling for a halt on Dec. 10 to graving yard construction because of the high number of human remains and artifacts uncovered at the site.

Transportation officials agreed — and shut down the project Dec. 22.

“Mayor Headrick is a judge, and he should know better,” Charles said.

“Of course we believe in contracts. We have several contracts with neighboring agencies, and I sign contracts every day.”

“What has changed with the memo of understanding agreement was that during the negotiations we were talking about 25 burials — and we are now into the hundreds.”

No one, including Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald, has suggested that the tribe broke any agreements with the state.

Charles also said Headrick was wrong to use “hearsay” to make false arguments about her to Gregoire.

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