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Nisqually tribe plans to turn traditional homeland into resort, retail development in Lacey

Future development plans include a celebration of the tribe’s history and culture.

LACEY, Wash. — Bob Iyall remembers his grandfather raising horses on the property that was the traditional homeland of the Nisqually Indian Tribe.

Now the land, divided by I-5 in Lacey, sits mostly undeveloped.

But the tribe has big plans for the property after purchasing the 260 acres in 2020. 

“The whole community is going to benefit from this,” said Iyall, C.E.O. for the tribe’s Medicine Creek Enterprise Corporation. 

Iyall said the tribe hopes to build a resort, with convention space and perhaps a casino on the properties surrounding the existing Cabela's location. 

Apartments, retail, and even a family entertainment complex are among the plans being discussed, Iyall said.

But the economic impact is only one of the reasons tribal council vice chair Maui Squally is excited. 

“It’s always been the dream,” Squally said. “To be part of the land buyback.” 

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She said future development plans will include a celebration of the tribe’s history and culture. 

“I absolutely feel proud about the work that's happening here with Nisqually and making this land come back to us,” Squally said. 

Squally, who also works as the tribe’s language keeper, would like to see any cultural center on the property include instruction of languages and traditions. 

“I can honestly say, in regards to all of the ancestors that are up there,” Squally said. “They would be absolutely proud of the work the Nisqually is doing with making this happen for the tribe.” 

Iyall said permitting for the construction could take more than a year. 


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