Yakama Tribe | KUOW News and Information

Yakama Tribe

Turning to face the water behind her, Roxanne White recalled her ancestors’ memories of the Columbia River.

“At one point, if you can imagine, they would say you could walk off the backs of the salmon across the river,” said White, a Yakama Nation descendant. “Now they’re so minimal, and they’re sick. Just like our mother earth; just like our water.” 

A state Supreme court decision Thursday gives a Washington tribe the right to transport goods and services across state lines without taxation. Attorneys and tribal members said the case is a win on the side of tribal sovereignty.

Tribal leaders from around the Northwest gathered Thursday in Mosier, Oregon, not far from the site of last week’s oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge.

They prayed and spoke out against oil trains.

“We should not have any fossil fuels coming through our ancestral homeland, especially along the river," said Austin Greene, the tribal chairman for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington is one of the most contaminated places on earth. It’s also one of the most sacred landscapes for Northwest tribes.

For decades the Army Corps of Engineers used an island near the Bonneville Dam as a dumping ground. Toxic chemicals leaked into the Columbia River. The island is also a historic fishing site for the Yakama Nation.

The tribe is now suing the Corps to recover costs from helping clean up the contamination.

In 2003, the Corps removed electrical equipment and contaminated sediment found at the bottom of the river. In 2007, it dredged the area to remove more contaminated soil.

The Yakama Nation and neighboring tribes are strongly objecting to a Congressional move to offer public access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain, a place tribal members consider sacred.

A federal judge in Eastern Washington has ruled a cigarette maker on the Yakama Indian Reservation owes $58 million in unpaid taxes and penalties.

Leaders of the Yakama Nation in central Washington say they see little benefit to sales or farming of legalized marijuana on their traditional lands.

Imagine running power lines through a cathedral. That's how archaeologists describe what the Bonneville Power Administration proposes doing in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state. The federal electricity provider is trying to string a new transmission line near a cave that contains ancient paintings, a site considered sacred by Native Americans.

Tribal casinos take a lot of steps to keep players from cheating. But 42 people in Central Washington are facing charges of conspiracy to cheat on a raffle at a casino run by the Yakama Nation.

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.