WASHINGTON: When it comes to marijuana, legal or otherwise, the Yakama Nation in central Washington says it wants no part of it.
At one of the last public hearings held on the new rules for creating the state-licensed marijuana market, the treaty attorney for the Yakama Nation reminded the crowd that the tribe wasn’t jumping on the pot wagon and would go after cannabis growers on any land within the boundaries of the reservation.
Curious, we asked treaty attorney George Colby if he could arrange a guest post on the Yakama Nation’s position regarding I-502 and marijuana. He sent us this guest post written by Harry Smiskin, Chairman of Yakama Nation:
The Yakama have been a major part of the Pacific Northwest from time immemorial. In European terms, since the black robes came to our lands and various foreign ships made it to our waters. In United States terms, since 1855 when the United States signed a treaty with the Yakama Nation that was Senate ratified as 12 Stat 951. When the territory of Washington became a state, it gave up right title and interest in Indian lands — Yakama included.
Today the Yakama control much of central Washington, close to 14,000,000 acres.
We oppose I-502 and have made sure that the proposed rules by the WSLCB include Yakama opposition when on our lands. Thanks to the WSLCB for hearing us.
The citizens of the state of Washington do not have the authority to vote what happens on Yakama lands. It is that simple. The Yakama Law and Order Code prohibit the sale, use, or production of marijuana on the lands we control. We are constantly finding very sophisticated grows and ending them. Our police have won federal awards for this work. We are proud of our efforts. We do not want our people, or anyone else, to use, grow or sell marijuana on our lands. We have had a long and unpleasant history with marijuana — just as we have had with alcohol. We fight them both on our lands.
Making something legal does not remove the costs of rehabilitation and associated social unrest. While Europeans, their progeny and others, may wish to use marijuana — the Yakama say to you — go elsewhere. Stay off our lands.
Know this: If you do not like and respect our laws and our police, all we have to do is call our federal partners to assist us. Both tribal law and federal law are consistent in this regard. Further, our treaty requires us to turn over those that commit depredations on our lands to the federal government. That we will do!
I cannot tell you what to do on state lands in Seattle or else where — I can tell you how it is going to be on Yakama Lands. The use of marijuana is not a part of our culture or religions or daily way of life. Nor is it one of our traditional medicines. Please respect our lands and our position.
Harry Smiskin, Chairman, Yakama Nation.