Retrocession Gives Rights to Yakama Nation Police Officers To Pr - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Retrocession Gives Rights to Yakama Nation Police Officers To Preside Over Crimes on Tribal Land

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YAKAMA NATION, WA - The Yakama Nation has earned the right to govern itself in certain civil and criminal cases. A retrocession has granted rights back to the Yakama Tribe to preside over criminal activity... Something that the Yakama tribe has not had since 1963.

The federal government approved this change. The big questions are what will happen to non tribe-members who commit crimes here in the Yakama Nation and how will they will work with Yakima county law enforcement.

Monday marked history for the people of the Yakama Nation. The Bureau of Indian Affairs granted a petition for retrocession.

"Washington state legislature in 2012 allowed for the government to send a proclamation back to the department of the interior of the federal government to retrocede partial civil and criminal jurisdiction back to the Yakama Tribe."says Yakima County Prosecutor Joseph Brusic

This means a removal of state jurisdiction for certain cases. Cases such as car accidents, domestic violence and truancy will be handled by the Yakama Nation's own police force.

"Say that a deputy stops a vehicle on the reservation and finds that the driver is DUI and is a tribal member...” Yakima County Sheriff Brian Winter explains... “In a case like that , we need to be able to, in pretty short order, be able to turn that driver over to the tribal police department."

Communication between the county and tribe is key, and although there is some concern about whether that communication will follow through, county officials want people to know that the safety of both the tribe and the rest of the Yakima County citizens are whats most important.

"We just want to work with them as a partnership to make sure that everyone who travels or is on the Yakama reservation, or not, are protected and that there is public safety." continued Brusic

Although the retrocession has been approved by the state of Washington, it will not be active in the Yakama Nation for another six months.