The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

Maps reveal Tract D historical 'corrections' may not be accurate

 

Contributed

MAKING SENSE OF MAPS: This shows the southwest portion of the original 1855 treaty map.

In its issue of June 10, 2015, The Sentinel ran a contributed article by William and Mary College Professor Dr. Andrew Fisher concerning the controversy over retrocession of Tract D in Klickitat County to the Yakama Nation. Here, Glenwood resident Wayne Vinyard responds with more historical detail.

Dr. Andrew Fisher's article concerning Yakama Reservation and Tract D history is helpful. It serves people to better understand the Tract D boundary from the perspective of the Yakama people. However, concerns that non-tribal citizens have about inclusion within the boundary and jurisdiction of the Yakama Reservation are very real and need to be understood too.

Much of Dr. Fisher's article is factually correct and mirrors the information presented by Klickitat County, such as the 1904 Act of Congress that was upheld by the 1913 Supreme Court ruling, actions of the Indian Claims Commission (ICC), and President Nixon's 1972 executive order. However, he missed several key points that must be considered.

In my reading of the Klickitat County letter to the Department of Interior, the county does not oppose the Yakama Nation's petition for retrocession. It respectfully asked that action on retrocession be postponed until three areas of concern are addressed.

The County asked for (1) interlocal agreements to be in place between the Yakama Tribe and Klickitat County law enforcement and public safety entities, and that (2) there be clarification that the Yakamas have no jurisdiction over non-Indian parties and/or non-Indian victims. Both are critical to ensure that proper law enforcement and emergency response and care can be provided for all citizens.

The third issue was to have the disputed southern boundary of Tract D around the 99,000-acre Glenwood area specifically excluded as it is not part of the reservation. Klickitat County's position on this matter is based on extensive research of evidence and historical information. This position is also supported by the ICC itself. In a 1978 letter to Congressman Mike McCormack, the ICC Chairman, Jerome K. Kuykendall, explained the ICC actions. The Yakama Nation's petition to the ICC did not include a demand for boundary changes, but instead addressed issues of financial redress and transfer of small parcels of federal land. The only change in reservation boundaries was Nixon's Executive Order 11670 in 1972 for 21,000 acres of National Forest lands. At the time of the 1966 ICC proceedings, the reservation boundaries found by the Commission and recognized by the Yakama Nation was the one established by Congress in 1904. Mr. Kuykendall documents that "The Indian Claims Commission made no adjustment of the boundaries of the Yakima Indian Reservation." He also documents that the ICC Act (25 U.S.C. 70u) provides:

SEC. 22. (b) A final determination against a claimant made and reported in accordance with this Act shall forever bar any further claim or demand against the United States arising out of the matter involved in the controversy.

Thus, not Klickitat County, but the ICC Commissioner and the ICC Act clarified that the ICC judgement settled the matter once and for all.

Dr. Fisher leaves the impression that the original reservation map found in 1930 clearly shows Tract D within the reservation. This is simply not true. While the map's depiction of terrain features has been subject to debate, the most certain feature on the map is the 46th parallel, which today represents the southern boundary of Yakima County. The 1855 treaty map clearly shows the reservation boundary NORTH of the 46th parallel, and excluding the Glenwood Valley. Proximity of the Glenwood Valley to the 46th parallel was well understood by the federal government, as it had been mapped by the McClellan Expedition two years prior to signing the Treaty.

In addition, an Act of Congress dated March 3, 1927 (44 Stat. 1347; 25 U.S.C. 398a) stipulates that changes in reservation boundaries cannot be made except by an Act of Congress. The Yakama Reservation boundary defined by Congress and the Supreme Court excludes Tract D. Within the original 121,466-acre Tract D area, Nixon's Executive Order 11670 in 1972 restored only National Forest lands. The remaining 99,000 acres are not within the reservation boundaries.

The actions of the ICC in 1966, Nixon's Executive Order 11670, Department of Interior "legal opinion," and changes on federal maps do not change this fact. For 47 years now the Department of Interior has failed to provide anything to change that fact. No congressionally approved document exists that changes the Yakama Reservation boundary to the present Department of Interior claim to include all of Tract D. The Glenwood area is outside the Yakama Reservation.

Glenwood is a diverse community with a mix of Yakama Tribal members and non-tribal members. We live and work together, raise our children together, and play together. As friends and neighbors we share each other's happy times and successes and support each other in times of sorrow and loss. As with all things, our good people need to respect different perspectives on Tract D and not let it break the bonds of community, friendship, and family that we share.

Wayne Vinyard is a long-time resident of Glenwood. He has a BS in Forest and Range management from Northern Arizona University and has practiced forestry and forest management in Klickitat County with private industry for 45 years. He and his wife, Nina, have raised four children in Glenwood.

 

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