The Colville Tribal Council of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation voted to recognize same-sex marriages last week.
Over half of the 9,300 members reside on the Colville Reservation in north-central Washington State, where gay marriage is already legal. However, because federally recognized Native American tribes are self-governed, state laws do not apply.
Michael Finley, council chairman, said that the tribe has “long recognized and respected LGBT identities, usually referred to as two-sprit in the tribal vernacular.”
Though the tribe had already permitted same-sex couples to add partnerships to their insurance and other benefits plans, they can now legally marry.
In 2008 the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon became the first Native American tribe to recognize marriage equality. According to Equality on Trial, now six U.S. tribes have formally recognized marriage equality.