Yakama Nation And Justice Department Settle Lawsuit Over Raid

Aug 26, 2013

The Yakama Nation tribe and the US Justice Department have settled a lawsuit over access to tribal lands.

On February 15, 2011  federal agents raided a Yakama tribal cigarette manufacturer. The dispute over federal taxes in that case continues, but the raid prompted a lawsuit.

Yakama Tribal Chairman Harry Smiskin said federal agents failed to properly notify tribal law enforcement they were coming.“ We sued them because they asserted their authority on our lands without consent," he said. 

According to court documents, an FBI agent sent a text message to the tribe's public safety commissioner after the raid had started. Smiskin said that violated the Yakama Treaty of 1855, which lays out the conditions for non-Native American actions on tribal land. 

Smiskin said that under the settlement agreement reached Monday, the government will give notice of enforcement in Yakama Indian Country at the earliest "prudent and practicable opportunity." 

The language  regarding the government’s obligation to notify the tribe is broad.

The Department of Justice declined comment for this story.

Smiskin says he’s hopeful that the US government will honor the agreement.