The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Darryl Lloyd
For The Sentinel 

Researcher says Tract D bid violates agreements



SIGN OF ACCEPTANCE: This sign on Yakama Nation territory shows trail heads for Tract D and surrounding areas.

Darryl Lloyd was hired as a consultant during the surveying of Tract D in 1972. In this article he shares his inside perspective on the recent controversial retrocession of Tract D to the Yakama Nation.

I would like to share some historical information about the disputed Yakama Reservation boundary around the Glenwood Valley. I did extensive research on the U. S. Government's settlement of the claim when I lived in the valley, and I've kept a stack of documents and maps to back up facts.

The disputed boundary runs west from Grayback Mountain and dips southwest along the hills at the southern edge of the valley. It then curves north to the top of King Mountain along the divide between the Klickitat and White Salmon rivers. It encompasses the "Glenwood area," defined as a tract of some 97,909 acres (about 153 square miles). These are all patented lands within a larger Yakama Nation claim area known as "Tract D." The original Tract D contained some 121,466 acres.

In 1966, The Indian Claims Commission "allowed" the Yakama Nation's claim to Tract D, ruling that the area was "wrongfully excluded" from the Yakama Reservation under the Treaty of 1855. The original claim was for compensation for Tract D lands "lost" or erroneously excluded from the reservation. No assertions were made for boundary adjustments or restoration of the lands to the reservation until after the 1966 ruling.

Intense negotiations between the Yakama Nation and federal government followed the 1966 ruling. By 1968, a compromise agreement had separated the claim into lands that could be restored to the reservation (Bureau of Land Management, Gifford Pinchot National Forest) from lands that could not be added to the reservation-the Glenwood area. The 1946 federal claims law allowed only a government buyout of the area. Glenwood lands were considered "taken" under the 5th Amendment, for which the Tribe would be compensated in cash.

Federal lands within Tract D were administratively restored to the reservation in two parts: (1) in 1968, some 2,548 acres of unpatented BLM parcels located near the Klickitat River, and (2) in 1972, the 21,009-acre Mt. Adams area within GPNF-including 10,000 acres of designated Wilderness-by Executive Order 11670, signed by President Nixon.

Following Nixon's 1972 transfer, the Mt. Adams acreage was called "Tract D of the Yakama Reservation." This boundary has never been in dispute. It was surveyed in the summer of 1972, and I was hired on as the mountain consultant. The post-1972 name for the 21,000-acre "Tract D" may be confusing because the original "Tract D" in the Yakama's claim contained 121,466 acres.

On November 14th, 1968, the Glenwood area claim was settled. The Yakama Nation accepted a cash settlement of $2,100,000. Parties in the settlement were the Yakama Tribe, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Department of Justice and Indian Claims Commission. With respect to the 97,909-acre Glenwood area, all parties agreed that "the settlement shall constitute a final determination of all claims asserted or which could have been asserted by the Yakama Tribe."

It was a "final judgment." There could be no further "claims and demands" on the Glenwood area. The intent of Congress was to close the book on the issue. Section 22 of the 1946 Act says: "The payment of any claim, after its determination in accordance with this Act, shall be the full discharge of all claims and demands touching any of the matters involved in the controversy."

Or so the people of Glenwood thought. In 1977, a new Yakama Nation Water Code asserted jurisdiction over non-Indian water users in the valley. Glenwood water users sued the Yakama Tribal Council in federal court, disputing both the new boundary and tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian water users on non-Indian fee lands. Ten years later, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the water users, but the boundary issue was excluded in the ruling.

Between 1978 and 1981, the Bureau of Land Management surveyed a new reservation boundary around the Glenwood Valley, from Goat Butte to King Mountain. The boundary survey was ordered in 1976 by the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Portland. No public meetings about the boundary change were held in Glenwood or anywhere else.

In 1978, U. S. Interior Department Solicitor Krulitz issued an opinion that the Glenwood area was inside the Yakama Reservation. But also in 1978, Jerome Kuykendall, Chairman of the Indian Claims Commission stated in a letter to Washington Congressman McCormack that the 97, 908-acre Glenwood area "in Tract D (is) outside the southwest boundary of the reservation." (Emphasis added.)

In a 1992 letter to Washington Congressman Morrison, U. S. Interior Department Solicitor Sansonetti justified inclusion of the Glenwood area in the Yakama Reservation. The solicitor based his opinion on the 1966 Indian Claims Commission decision and a legal analysis by a regional Interior Department solicitor in 1968.

All federal proceedings dealing with the Glenwood area claim between 1949 and 1968 were held in Washington D. C. The people of Glenwood were not invited, nor were state and county officials. In fact, public participation was not even possible. The Interior Department's actions following the final settlement of the claim appears to be an annexation of a 153 square-mile area into the Yakama Reservation-all done without the voice of the people most affected and in violation of the Indian Claims Act of 1946.

Interpretation of the 1855 Treaty by the Indian Claims Commission in 1966 is a story that I'd like to tell at another time.


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