Yakama Nation celebrates retrocession, allowing more control ove - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakama Nation celebrates retrocession, allowing more control over criminal proceedings

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TOPPENISH, WA. -- Members of the Yakama Nation gathered to celebrated a huge milestone Friday. The tribal nation became the first in Washington to get more control over it's civil and criminal proceedings.

Friday was a day to remember for members of the Yakima Nation. The tribe celebrated officially completing the process known as retrocession. 

"It's a beautiful day and we will have many good things that will come forth," Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy said. 

Chairman JoDe Goudy said this one of the most important moments in Yakama Nation history since the Treaty of 1855. 

"Symbolically, it's a continuous effort to asserting ourselves as a nation, as sovereign," Chairman Goudy said. "One of the greatest expressions of sovereignty is the ability to make and enforce your own laws."

Retrocession means that tribal authorities have more jurisdiction over tribal members on tribal land. For example, if a tribal member is pulled over for a traffic stop on tribal land, law enforcement will call the nearest tribal officer to respond and handle the call. 

"I'm happy for the Yakama Nation," Yakima County Sheriff Brian Winter said. "I grew up down here. I graduated from White Swan and so the lower valley and especially this west end has been a large part of my life so I know this is very important to the Yakama."

The Yakama Nation is the first tribe in Washington to have legal jurisdiction returned to them using the state law for retrocession created in 2011. The nation says they are ready for the increased responsibility over their people. 

"The Yakama Nation is a government, we put our best foot forward in preparation for all events and this is a very significant one," Chairman Goudy told us. "And so we've taken a number of steps but just like anyone else, if there's bumps along the way, we will deal with them as they arise to the best of our ability."

Friday was about celebrating increased sovereignty for the people of the Yakama Nation and it brought a lot of smiles. 

Sheriff Winter says he doubts people will notice the difference from the retrocession in their normal lives. The nation will continue to use the help of the FBI to handle major crime. 

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