Yakama Tribe Celebrates Treaty of 1855 With Annual Pow Wow and Parade

Jackie McNeelGovernor Jay Inslee, and his wife Trudi, (center) with Navajo Code Talker Kee Etsicitty, (far right) and Yakama Tribal Council Chairman JoDe Goudy on June 9, 2014.
Jackie McNeel
Governor Jay Inslee, and his wife Trudi, (center) with Navajo Code Talker Kee Etsicitty, (far right) and Yakama Tribal Council Chairman JoDe Goudy on June 9, 2014.

Jack McNeel, Indian Country Today


Washington state Governor Jay Inslee and his wife, Trudi, took part in the Yakama Treaty Days Parade on June 9, recognizing the Treaty of 1855 between the U.S. and the Yakama Nation. Governor Inslee stopped frequently to shake hands and exchange a few words with onlookers, as he made his way to the podium to join Tribal Council Chairman JoDe Goudy, who rode behind him on horseback in full regalia, and Navajo Code Talker Kee Etsicitty.

The parade included a rodeo, pow wow, golf tournament, softball tournament, salmon bake and some unofficial business — talks between the the governor and tribal leaders were held on the grounds of the Yakama Cultural Center. A group of young dancers, the Swan Dancers, also honored guests with a Welcome Dance.

Chairman Goudy proclaimed June 9 as “Governor Jay Inslee Day”’ for his commitment to the Yakama Nation. Goudy presented Inslee with a copy of the original treaty and the tribe gave, “so he could read it over and over and over again,” Goudy said.

The softball tournament was held a few blocks away and 14 teams participated. Most of the men’s teams were made up of players from different tribes. But team “Tribes,” from the Yakama Nation, took first place, and in second were the Muckleshoot “Warriors.”

On the women’s side, the Silver Bullets, made up of players from various reservations throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho, took first place and the Ice Ice Natives from Elwha finished in second. The winners received sweaters and a $400 payout.

Eighty golfers from 13 tribes gathered at the Mt. Adams Country Club. Golfers had the option of playing in a 4-man scramble tournament, divided between duffer and stroker divisions. They also had the option of singles match play.

The pow wow was held about 20 miles away at White Swan. Dancers gathered from far and near for the two-day event. The indoor pavilion was filled and vendors surrounded the building selling everything from frybread and Indian tacos to jewelry and beadwork. An adjacent building held stick game competitions.

Miss Yakama Nation, Jeanetta Garcia, and Junior Miss Yakama, Abigail Totus, were both presented at the parade and at the pow wow along with young royalty from other tribes.

The Treaty of 1855 involved all 14 bands of the Yakama Nation. Representatives of those bands make up the Tribal Council. The population is now upwards of 10,000 members on the 1.2 million acre reservation.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/06/16/yakama-tribe-celebrates-treaty-1855-annual-pow-wow-and-parade-155318

Legal Marijuana Raises Issues for Indian Tribes

Washington and Colorado each has their own set of pot problems

By Katy Steinmetz / San Francisco @katysteinmetz Feb. 06, 2014



Washington’s Yakama tribe lives on a one million-acre reservation in the southern part of the state, a relatively small patch left after nearly 12 million acres was ceded to the U.S. government by the nation in 1855. As state officials are racing to build one of the world’s first legal marijuana markets, tribe officials are making it clear that their reservation wants no part of it—and they don’t want anyone else growing or selling cannabis on their ceded land either, to which they maintain certain rights. But it remains unclear whether they have the legal authority to make a demand that affects nearly a third of the land area in the state.

The laws that govern American Indian reservations have long been confusing. Many tribes are subject to only their own laws and federal law, while certain reservations are under state jurisdiction. Now adding to the confusion in Colorado and Washington is the uncertainty about how those states can legally regulate a substance still considered illegal by the federal government. And while many Yakama are anxious to keep the marijuana market far away—fueled by concern about substance abuse—other advocates for American Indians are mad that tribes can’t enjoy the new freedoms that other state residents have.

People in Colorado and Washington who don’t live on reservations “are moving forward with this massive experiment,” says Troy Eid, chairman of the Indian Law and Order Commission, a national advisory body focused on criminal justice in Indian territory. “And, once again, these tribes are getting screwed.”

AP Photo/Yakima Herald-Republic, Gordon KingYoung men wait to take part in an annual pow wow and rodeo in Toppenish, Wash. The boys are members of the Coleville and Yakama tribes.
AP Photo/Yakima Herald-Republic, Gordon King
Young men wait to take part in an annual pow wow and rodeo in Toppenish, Wash. The boys are members of the Coleville and Yakama tribes.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is tasked with shaping the new market in that state. Right now, they’re sifting through more than 7,000 business license applications from residents who want to farm marijuana or run pot shops, and they plan to start issuing those licenses in March. This is where leaders from the Yakama tribe have addressed “several hundreds” of letters, each “pro-objecting,” as their attorney George Colby puts it, to individual applications made from areas the tribe occupies or once did. “Citizens of the state of Washington don’t get to vote on what happens” in those areas, he says. “The federal government wasn’t supposed to let alcohol come on the Yakama reservation, and thousands of people have died. We’re not going to let that happen again.”

There is little question about tribes in Washington being able to prohibit marijuana use among their own people on their own land (though there is some question about “tribes’ ability to regulate non-member conduct on the reservation,” the attorney general’s office says). The big unknown is how much authority they have over sprawling ceded lands, acres that were essentially handed up to the federal government more than 150 years ago with the promise that tribes would retain certain rights to those lands in perpetuity. In the Yakama’s case, members still have the exclusive right to hunt, fish and gather food on those 12 million acres.

Eid, an expert in tribal law appointed to his position by the president and Congress, says that while it’s not “absolutely clear,” he believes the Yakama do have the ability to object to marijuana being grown or sold on ceded lands. Meanwhile, the Washington state liquor board says they’re still planning to issuing licenses to businesses in those areas. “Objections are made all the time to licenses,” says spokesman Brian Smith. “You want to make sure you’re operating within the law as you know it, and that’s what we’ll be doing here.”

Neither side knows for sure, and that is a recipe for the conflict to end up in court, which might in turn force the question of how the discrepancy between state and federal law is going to be remedied when it comes to marijuana. The Washington attorney general’s office tells TIME that they will defend the liquor board if they’re sued, but that “the Liquor Control Board is still in the process of issuing licenses so it would be premature to speculate on the issue of how a court might rule on the issue of licenses on ceded lands.” Colby says that they will request the federal government to intervene if their ongoing pre-objections are not heard.

Other tribes in the state have yet to weigh in but Eid says that they are likely to stand with the Yakama, if only to make sure their rights to their own ceded lands remain as robust as possible. He also says that it would be ideal if everyone sat down in a room together and hashed out the issue. “They can work out what the scope of marijuana use and cultivation and distribution and so on could be,” he says. “They ought to be able to come to a voluntary agreement that would enable them to avoid any issues involving litigation.”

When Eid is not working on the commission, he acts as counsel for the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, one of two in Colorado. Unlike the Yakama reservation, where state law enforcement has some authority, reservations in the Rocky Mountain State are bound solely by federal and tribal law. That means that while reservation-dwellers in Colorado were allowed to vote in favor of Amendment 64, the proposal that legalized recreational marijuana, it remains illegal to grow, sell or smoke on their reservations as it ever was. (La Plata County, one of two with large American Indian populations, voted to approve the measure by 62% to 38%.)

Some of the American Indians in Colorado view their current situation as a missed business opportunity. “Capital is flowing in here from all over the world,” Eid says. “The tribes are going to be left behind, because there’s been no change in state law that applies to them … These are some of the poorest areas in the country. They could be involved in this business as well, but instead they’re being prohibited from being part of what’s happening.”

One way or another, the federal government may have to weigh in on the issue, whether it’s Congress eventually giving tribes the authority to decide whether they want to legalize marijuana or a federal judge ruling on the status of ceded lands. “This is one of so many of the issues that we are pushing through,” says Smith. “We’re sort of the pioneers here. But we continue onward, into some unknown territory.”


Historic pact: Feds to notify Yakamas of warrant activity

AUGUST 27, 2013

By Phil Ferolito / Yakima Herald-Republic


In a historic move, the U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to notify Yakama tribal police before executing search and arrest warrants against tribal members on tribal land.

The move could help widen the path for the Yakama Nation, a sovereign nation, to have its full civil and criminal authority over its people returned.

“It’s historical from the standpoint that there is not another agreement like this with any other tribe and the U.S. Department of Justice,” Tribal Council Chairman Harry Smiskin said Monday during a telephone interview.

For decades, the lack of procedures involving search and arrest warrants between tribal and nontribal authorities on the 1.2-million-acre reservation have sparked disputes, including the Feb. 16, 2011, federal raid on King Mountain Tobacco, which is owned and operated by Yakama tribal member Delbert Wheeler in White Swan.

Federal authorities took computers, records and other documents from Wheeler’s business without informing tribal leaders and even blocked tribal police from entering the property during the raid.

In response, the tribe sued the U.S. Department of Justice in March 2011 for allowing the FBI to execute the raid without notifying tribal authorities. Also named in the lawsuit were Yakima and Benton county sheriff’s offices and government agencies in Virginia and Mississippi for their involvement in the raid. Wheeler is accused of avoiding state cigarette taxes in those states.

Similar agreements have been reached with Yakima and Benton counties and Virginia and Mississippi authorities, and the case subsequently has been dismissed.

Smiskin said the agreements reaffirm the tribe’s ability to govern itself and clearly establish procedures for outside agencies seeking to arrest tribal members on tribal land.

Benton and Yakima counties have agreed to not only allow a tribal police officer to be present when executing such warrants, but also to book tribal suspects into the tribe’s jail and go through an extradition process.

However, those arresting procedures may not apply to federal authorities who often have jurisdiction over serious cases on the reservation, Smiskin said.

Those cases usually are forwarded to the FBI from tribal police.

Smiskin said he’s seen improved communication between federal and tribal authorities since discussions about the agreement began not long after the lawsuit was filed.

“They have been very cooperative in that regard, in alerting us before coming on to the reservation to issue any warrants,” he said.

FBI spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo in Seattle said she couldn’t comment on the agreement because it was part of litigation, but said the FBI has always worked well with tribes.

“The FBI has always valued its partnerships with tribal authorities,” she said. “So for decades now, we’re continuing to build on that foundation and looking for ways to improve our working relations.”

For more than half a century, civil and criminal authority over tribal members on tribal lands has been confusing at best.

In 1855, the Yakamas signed a treaty with the federal government that allowed the now-10,000-member tribe to govern itself. It has its own police department and jail.

But in 1953, Congress enacted Public Law 280, which allowed several states to take over criminal and much civil authority over tribal members on their own reservations.

Yakama tribal authorities have retained much criminal authority over its members, but are now petitioning the state in a process called “retrocession” to have the rest, including civil authority, over its people returned.

Smiskin said the agreement could strengthen the tribe’s petition.

“I assume it would add to the petition for retrocession,” he said.

Eat Insanely Fresh Native Salmon: Four Tribes Open Fishery On Columbia River

Courtesy Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish CommissionA tribal fisher loads fall chinook into their boat on the Columbia River near Hood River, Oregon.

Courtesy Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
A tribal fisher loads fall chinook into their boat on the Columbia River near Hood River, Oregon.

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

Starting August 19, fishers from the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama tribes will drop their gill nets in the Columbia River.

During the 2013 fall commercial season, this first gill net fishery can harvest up to 200,000 fish or an estimated 2.5 million pounds of salmon. The fresh catch of salmon, steelhead and coho will be sold commercially directly from Indian fishers to the public. Sales to the public should last into October with peak abundance from just before Labor Day through mid-September. Much of the harvest is sold to wholesale fish dealers and can be found in stores and restaurants around the Northwest and beyond.

Fisheries biologists estimate that the 2013 fall chinook return will be well above average with 677,900 fall chinook entering the Columbia and over 575,000 destined for areas upstream of the Bonneville Dam. Fishery managers also predict a record return of wild Snake River fall chinook and over 130,000 coho.

“Many of the salmon returning to the Columbia River are the direct result of tribal restoration efforts, joint state and tribal programs and several tribal and federal partnerships that are increasing the abundance of salmon in upriver areas,” said Paul Lumley, executive director for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

During the harvest, managers actively monitor the returns so they can adjust the harvest levels as needed to keep the fisheries within strict harvest limits established under the US v. Oregon fisheries management agreement.

The tribal fishery offers an ample supply of fish for the public through over-the-bank sales. Common sales locations include: Marine Park in Cascade Locks, Lone Pine in The Dalles, North Bonneville—one mile east of Bonneville Dam, and Columbia Point in Washington’s Tri-Cities area.

Individuals interested in purchasing tribally caught fish should keep the following tips in mind:
•    Sales from tribal fishers generally run from 10 a.m. to dusk.
•    Price is determined at the point of sale.
•    Most sales are cash only.
•    Buyers should request a receipt.
•    Tribal fishers can advise on topics including fish freshness and preparation.

The public is urged to call the salmon marketing program at (888) 289-1855 before heading up the river to find out where the day’s catch is being sold. More information is available on the salmon marketing website http://www.critfc.org/harvest. Follow @ColumbiaSalmon on Twitter for updates.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/08/19/four-tribes-open-fall-commercial-fishery-direct-sales-public-150946

Lamprey returned to Yakima River basin


Lamprey release on Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (SARA GETTYS / Yakima Herald-Republic)
Lamprey release on Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (SARA GETTYS / Yakima Herald-Republic)

Posted on May 15, 2013

By Phil Ferolito

Yakima Herald-Republic

 WHITE SWAN, Wash. — After being largely absent for nearly a half-century, an old friend of the Yakamas — the Pacific lamprey — is being reintroduced to its home waters in the Yakima River basin.

On Tuesday, a handful of Yakama Nation biologists released 44 of the prehistoric, eel-like creatures into Toppenish and Simcoe creeks, where they have not been seen since the 1970s. The move is part of a larger project to restore the once vibrant Pacific lamprey not only in the Yakima River basin, but throughout the Northwest.

“This reintroduction is definitely a sacred time for our tribe,” project manager Patrick Luke said just before the release of adult lamprey into Simcoe Creek. “It’s just one step in a larger restoration project.”

After decades of considering lamprey a parasite that merely fed on other fish, federal and state authorities are now heeding what Northwestern tribes have long said — lamprey play an important role in the ecosystem and subsequently improve the survival rate of other species, such as salmon. Roughly 50 years ago, dams began blocking lamprey — which spend roughly two years in the ocean — from much of the Columbia River and its tributaries. With the ancient creature facing extinction, five states, along with federal agencies and several tribes, have embarked on a massive restoration project.

As part of a historic 10-year, $900 million fish-restoration accord the Army Corps of Engineers reached in 2008 with four Columbia River tribes — Yakama, Umatilla and Warm Springs — $5 million a year is being spent on lamprey restoration.

Although another species of lamprey is present in the Yakima River basin — Western brook lamprey that do not migrate — Tuesday’s release was the first significant step taken by the tribe to revive this anadromous creature to its ancestral waters, where they will spawn and hopefully return.

Although the cultural significance of the salmon to the Yakamas is generally understood, that of the lamprey has long been overlooked. They too were a staple in the diet.

Lamprey bring nutrients from the ocean to rivers and streams when they return to spawn. But lamprey also help protect salmon: Because they have a richer oil, birds and other predators usually feed on them first, biologists said.

“It’s a wonderful day for the lamprey and it’s also exciting for all the other species in the ecosystem,” said biologist Ralph Lampman.

Lamprey begin life as larvae and grow to about 2 feet long. Adults return to areas where they smell the baby larvae, Luke said. And the larvae offer nutrients as well, he said.

“What worms do in the ground is what lamprey do in the water as larvae,” he said.

Called asúm by the Yakamas, lamprey have existed for 450 million years and predate dinosaurs, according to fish biologists.

They once were prevalent throughout the Northwest, said Luke, who fished for them as a child.

“There would be so many, they’d turn the water black,” he said of the creature with a disk-shaped mouth lined with tiny, pointy teeth. “They used to call it the maiden hair.”

The lamprey released Tuesday were plucked from The Dalles and John Day dams, which they rarely make it past, and kept at the tribe’s hatchery in Prosser, project leader Luke said.

Hatchery supplementation will be used to restore lamprey, but the goal is to rebuild a natural run, he said.

Like a sucker fish, lamprey latch onto rocks to move through swift currents and to navigate falls. But when fish ladders were installed at dams, the lamprey wasn’t considered, Luke said.

Lamprey cannot make their way past the sharp corners of the weirs in fish tunnels and ladders. They need rounded edges they can move around, he said.

At the request of Columbia River tribes, the Corps of Engineers began looking at lamprey before the historic accord was signed, and installed two lamprey ramps at Bonneville Dam in 2002. Similar structures, which aren’t cheap, would need to be installed elsewhere throughout the Columbia and Yakima river basins to improve lamprey survival, Lampman said.

“That’s a really hard fix,” he said. “That’s not going to happen overnight.”

Meanwhile, efforts to use hatchery-raised lamprey and to relocate wild lamprey pulled from the lower Columbia River will continue, Luke said.

Today, Yakama biologists will release another group of lamprey into Satus Creek southeast of Toppenish. And next week, another release will occur at Ahtanum Creek near Union Gap.

“That’s why it’s so important,” he said. “We’re not going to win this war with giant steps — it’s going to be a lot of little steps.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that the Nez Perce are not part of the accord with the Army Corps of Engineers.

• Phil Ferolito can be reached at 509-577-7749 or pferolito@yakimaherald.com.