Yakama Nation Tribal Council declares public safety crisis

TOPPENISH, WA - People engaged in unlawful activities on Yakama lands are on official notice through a Yakama Nation Tribal Council Resolution that could result in immediate exclusion, jail time, fines, suspension of all Treaty-reserved hunting, fishing and gathering rights, and banishment from the Yakama Nation with forfeiture of per capita payments.

The YNTC, in asserting its sovereign authority over Yakama lands and people, will impose harsher punishments and faster consequences against the recurrence of illegal activities and crimes occurring on the Yakama lands.

Washington State Patrol's refusal to actively patrol the Yakama Reservation since the Tribe's successful retrocession through PL-280 last year, mixed with rampant crime in the small town of White Swan, prompted the Tribe to take immediate action to halt illegal activities and crime there.

The YNTC on February 7, 2018 passed Resolution T-057-18 for the health, safety and welfare of residents throughout the Yakama Reservation. "This public safety crisis has been initiated to address the criminal activity taking place within our lands," said JoDe Goudy, Tribal Council Chairman. "The Yakama nation is calling upon the United States to fulfill its trust fiduciary responsibility to our lands and people in addressing this crisis appropriately. We are also calling upon all jurisdictions to work together to ensure that all people Native and non-Native alike are safe."

The YNTC declared a public safety crisis through the Resolution. Councilwoman Esther Moses-Hyipeer, who lives in White Swan, said, "We have crime and malicious activity, assault and abuse of community members happening." The YNTC has held community and program meetings with the Public Safety officers of the area to coordinate and address the issue. "As leaders of this Nation we have heard the concerns of our community members and are taking this activity very seriously, because this is an issue not only happening in White Swan, but throughout Yakama lands and all communities," Moses-Hyipeer said. "We need to come together to make a positive difference."

The White Swan YN Tribal Police sub-station will re-open. A 7-day-a-week, 8 p.m. curfew is now in place for youth in the White Swan community. A 24-hour telephone hotline will also be in place for reporting crime. Included in the Resolution is direction for the removal of unauthorized or condemned structures, trash, debris, abandoned vehicles, RV's, trailers and tents, trees, and other vegetation implemented by YN Zoning, Solid Waste, Environmental Management, Water Code Administration, Land Enterprise, YN Housing Authority and Law Enforcement programs.

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