WELCOME TO  GLENWOOD, WASHINGTON
                              WEATHER
Glenwood is located at the foot of Mt Adams,  in the scenic                        
Glenwood Valley/Camas Prairie
  of Klickitat County
Note.....Mt. Adams is NOT in Klickitat County.

PHOTO BY DARLISA BLACK@ Starlisa.net

TRACT D

From the May 4, 2016 Goldendale Sentinel:

By Darryl Lloyd
For The Sentinel 

Researcher says Tract D bid violates agreements

Darryl Lloyd was hired as a consultant during the surveying of Tract D in 1972. In this article he shares his inside perspective on the recent controversial retrocession of Tract D to the Yakama Nation.

I would like to share some historical information about the disputed Yakama Reservation boundary around the Glenwood Valley. I did extensive research on the U. S. Government's settlement of the claim when I lived in the valley, and I've kept a stack of documents and maps to back up facts.

The disputed boundary runs west from Grayback Mountain and dips southwest along the hills at the southern edge of the valley. It then curves north to the top of King Mountain along the divide between the Klickitat and White Salmon rivers. It encompasses the "Glenwood area," defined as a tract of some 97,909 acres (about 153 square miles). These are all patented lands within a larger Yakama Nation claim area known as "Tract D." The original Tract D contained some 121,466 acres.

In 1966, The Indian Claims Commission "allowed" the Yakama Nation's claim to Tract D, ruling that the area was "wrongfully excluded" from the Yakama Reservation under the Treaty of 1855. The original claim was for compensation for Tract D lands "lost" or erroneously excluded from the reservation. No assertions were made for boundary adjustments or restoration of the lands to the reservation until after the 1966 ruling.

Intense negotiations between the Yakama Nation and federal government followed the 1966 ruling. By 1968, a compromise agreement had separated the claim into lands that could be restored to the reservation (Bureau of Land Management, Gifford Pinchot National Forest) from lands that could not be added to the reservation-the Glenwood area. The 1946 federal claims law allowed only a government buyout of the area. Glenwood lands were considered "taken" under the 5th Amendment, for which the Tribe would be compensated in cash.

Federal lands within Tract D were administratively restored to the reservation in two parts: (1) in 1968, some 2,548 acres of unpatented BLM parcels located near the Klickitat River, and (2) in 1972, the 21,009-acre Mt. Adams area within GPNF-including 10,000 acres of designated Wilderness-by Executive Order 11670, signed by President Nixon.

Following Nixon's 1972 transfer, the Mt. Adams acreage was called "Tract D of the Yakama Reservation." This boundary has never been in dispute. It was surveyed in the summer of 1972, and I was hired on as the mountain consultant. The post-1972 name for the 21,000-acre "Tract D" may be confusing because the original "Tract D" in the Yakama's claim contained 121,466 acres.

On November 14th, 1968, the Glenwood area claim was settled. The Yakama Nation accepted a cash settlement of $2,100,000. Parties in the settlement were the Yakama Tribe, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Department of Justice and Indian Claims Commission. With respect to the 97,909-acre Glenwood area, all parties agreed that "the settlement shall constitute a final determination of all claims asserted or which could have been asserted by the Yakama Tribe."

It was a "final judgment." There could be no further "claims and demands" on the Glenwood area. The intent of Congress was to close the book on the issue. Section 22 of the 1946 Act says: "The payment of any claim, after its determination in accordance with this Act, shall be the full discharge of all claims and demands touching any of the matters involved in the controversy."

Or so the people of Glenwood thought. In 1977, a new Yakama Nation Water Code asserted jurisdiction over non-Indian water users in the valley. Glenwood water users sued the Yakama Tribal Council in federal court, disputing both the new boundary and tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian water users on non-Indian fee lands. Ten years later, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the water users, but the boundary issue was excluded in the ruling.

Between 1978 and 1981, the Bureau of Land Management surveyed a new reservation boundary around the Glenwood Valley, from Goat Butte to King Mountain. The boundary survey was ordered in 1976 by the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Portland. No public meetings about the boundary change were held in Glenwood or anywhere else.

In 1978, U. S. Interior Department Solicitor Krulitz issued an opinion that the Glenwood area was inside the Yakama Reservation. But also in 1978, Jerome Kuykendall, Chairman of the Indian Claims Commission stated in a letter to Washington Congressman McCormack that the 97, 908-acre Glenwood area "in Tract D (is) outside the southwest boundary of the reservation." (Emphasis added.)

In a 1992 letter to Washington Congressman Morrison, U. S. Interior Department Solicitor Sansonetti justified inclusion of the Glenwood area in the Yakama Reservation. The solicitor based his opinion on the 1966 Indian Claims Commission decision and a legal analysis by a regional Interior Department solicitor in 1968.

All federal proceedings dealing with the Glenwood area claim between 1949 and 1968 were held in Washington D. C. The people of Glenwood were not invited, nor were state and county officials. In fact, public participation was not even possible. The Interior Department's actions following the final settlement of the claim appears to be an annexation of a 153 square-mile area into the Yakama Reservation-all done without the voice of the people most affected and in violation of the Indian Claims Act of 1946.

Interpretation of the 1855 Treaty by the Indian Claims Commission in 1966 is a story that I'd like to tell at another time.

TOPPENISH, Wash. — When the authority to enforce many types of criminal and civil cases involving tribal members was returned this week to the Yakama Nation by the federal government, Tribal Council Chairman JoDe Goudy treated it like the Fourth of July.

“I was sitting on my porch with a sparkler in my hand,” he told a crowd of more than 300 gathered Friday at the at the Yakama Nation Heritage Cultural Center for ceremonies commemorating the move called retrocession.

For the first time since 1963, many cases involving tribal members on the 1.2-million-acre reservation that have been handled by municipal police, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers and sent to state courts are now in the hands of tribal police and tribal courts.

Tribal leaders said the ability to govern their own lands is at the heart of sovereignty.

“In 1855, our past leaders were promised powers over our lands by the federal government,” Goudy said in a statement. “These promises were broken time and time again. It is a significant day in the lives of the Yakama people as the right to govern our lands and keep our people safe is finally realized.”

On Friday, federal, state and county officials as well as area law enforcement leaders gathered with tribal members and leaders to acknowledge the historic move in which the tribe takes another step in self-governance.

Clad in white buckskin and a war bonnet, Goudy said the transition of authority on the reservation, which officially took place Tuesday, has so far gone smoothly in contrast to skepticism from those who opposed it.

“The other night, the sky did not fall; chaos did not ensue,” he said. “We don’t want to simply exist. We wish to thrive; we wish to grow. This is a significant step toward that.”

Friday’s events opened with a Washat service, a traditional Yakama religious ceremony. Deerskin drums thundered as ancient tribal songs echoed.

Afterward, tribal leaders acknowledged the many people, including former Tribal Council Chairman Harry Smiskin, and councilwomen Terry Goudy-Rambler and Athena Sanchey, who worked hard to see the move through.

“There were others — It took a lot from a lot of people in the background,” tribal Councilman Virgil Lewis said. “There’s still a lot of work that has to be done by this nation, by the Office of Legal Counsel with retrocession.”

Moving forward won’t be flawless, as transitions usually come with learning curves and fine-tune adjustments, said Smiskin, a former tribal police officer.

“I’m sure there will be some missteps by our government,” he said. “But our responsibility will be to acknowledge these missteps and move ahead.”

The Yakamas aren’t the only tribe to have its criminal and civil jurisdiction handed to an outside government. The federal government under Public Law 280 transferred the authority of many tribes to states, including Washington.

Although the Yakama Nation retained some criminal jurisdiction over its members, such as misdemeanor crime and traffic violations, it will now have full jurisdiction over most crime and in five civil areas — compulsory school attendance, public assistance, domestic relations, juvenile delinquency and operations of motor vehicles on public roads and highways on the reservation. Major crimes, such as murder, will continue to be handled by the FBI.

Criminal cases involving non-Indian suspects or non-Indian victims will still be subject to state prosecution.

Officers from the sheriff’s office, Toppenish, Wapato and Union Gap, as well as the tribe, will receive a special federal commission allowing them to detain suspects outside their jurisdiction for investigation. Tribal police will also still be able to issue civil infractions to nontribal members, as they have been able to do previously.

The transition has been in the works since 2012, when the Yakamas became the first tribe in the state to seek the return of the legal jurisdictions the state claimed in 1963.

In October 2015, the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the move. The tribe has hired 10 new police officers in recent years and the BIA provided $149,000 to the Yakama Tribal Court to purchase equipment, hire a court administrator and provide additional training, a federal official wrote in an earlier letter to the county.

The process the Yakamas went through to obtain retrocession is now outlined in an exhibit at the Yakama Nation Museum.

A timeline beginning with the 1855 Treaty and a painting depicting the treaty talks and ending with the date retrocession took effect covers a museum wall.

“I’m going to try to keep it up for at least six months,” said museum anthropologist and registrar Heather Hull. “What we’re trying to do is get interest from the public.”

Having the Yakamas reclaim criminal and civil authority over themselves within the boundaries of the reservation — including in the municipalities of Toppenish and Wapato — hasn’t come without controversy.

In Klickitat County, the move has reignited controversy over the reservation’s southwest boundary.

The Yakamas have long maintained that it includes the Glenwood Valley and the unincorporated town of Glenwood, situated northwest of Goldendale.

An original map of the reservation based on the 1855 Treaty includes the area. Federal officials said the map was misplaced not long after the treaty was signed, and subsequently the area was opened to settlement.

Klickitat County officials have long disputed the Yakamas’ claim, contending the rural area composed of some 600 people is outside the reservation boundary.

Earlier this week, Klickitat County filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking an order establishing that the area is outside the reservation, which would prevent the tribe from asserting any law enforcement authority there.

Klickitat County Prosecuting Attorney Dave Quesnel said the lawsuit was filed after the county was informed by the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs that the tribe would have jurisdiction in the area.

The area wasn’t fully addressed during retrocession talks, he said.

“We had no choice but to file the lawsuit,” he said. “We couldn’t even find a partner willing enough to discuss the matter.”

Despite the controversy, Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer and Klickitat County Commission Chairman David Sauter were at the event.

“We’re here to show respect for the tribe,” Sauter said. “This is their day. Self-governance is a right of democracy. We’ve never disputed that.”

He said the boundary issue is between Klickitat County and the federal government, not the tribe.

“And that’s the reason for the lawsuit, to get some clarity on the issue,” he said.

He said he had not discussed the matter with the tribe, nor did he plan to at Friday’s event.

“This is their day of celebration,” he said. “I don’t want to have any issues of dispute today. I don’t think that would be appropriate.”

Aside from the boundary dispute, Councilman Lewis said the move is to ensure overall public safety.

“That means everybody — not just Yakamas,” he said. “That’s our goal, to protect everyone living on the Yakama reservation.”

APRIL OF 2016:
COMMUNITY MEETING WITH KLICKITAT COUNTY SHERRIF, COMISSIONER SAUTER AND PROSECUTING ATTORNEY DAVE QUESNEL TO INFORM THE RESIDENCE THAT AS OF APRIL 20 TRIBAL POLICE WILL HAVE JURISDICTION OVER TRIBAL MEMBERS ON TRIBAL LAND.  THE YAKAMA NATION CONSIDERS THE GLENWOOD VALLEY AS TRIBAL GROUND.

By Sverre Bakke

APRIL 20, 2016
WHITE SALMON ENTERPRISE
County Files Suit Seeking Determination Of Status Of Yakama Nation Boundary For Glenwood Valley

Shown is the southwest portion of the original 1855 treaty map.

#Klickitat County’s Board of Commissioners is bringing suit in federal district court against the U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs, seeking a determination that the Glenwood Valley is not part of the Yakama Nation Reservation.

#Prosecuting Attorney David Quesnel filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington this week in which the county asks the court for a declaratory judgment that the disputed Tract D of the Treaty of 1855 — which includes language that roughly sketches the reservation’s external boundary — is not within the boundary established by a 1904 act of Congress.

#The county alleges, “The Department of the Interior and BIA acted in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, limitations and short of statutory right by not expressly excluding Tract D from the government’s acceptance of the [Washington] State’s retrocession, thus implicitly assuming federal jurisdiction over Tract D and approving concurrent tribal jurisdiction without authority to do so.“

#Moreover, the county is seeking a permanent injunction barring the Department of Interior and BIA from exercising jurisdiction over Tract D, alleging, “The United States’ acceptance of the State of Washington’s retrocession of partial civil and criminal jurisdiction was unlawful.”

#The county’s lawsuit comes at a time when the Yakama Nation has begun policing tribal members who live in Tract D. The Yakama achieved this level of self-determination when the U.S. Secretary of Interior granted the nation’s petition for retrocession in 2015. In other words, the federal government has returned to the Yakama from the State of Washington partial jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters involving tribal members.

#Quesnel told The Enterprise last week the county’s longtime position has been that Tract D is part of the county, and that was the status quo until retrocession took effect on Tuesday, April 19.

#“At this point, the status quo is no longer satisfactory,” Quesnel said of the some 98,000-acre area that is now in question. He said the need to seek a legal determination “has been put off but we can’t do that anymore.”

#The Prosecuting Attorney and Commissioner David Sauter (R-Lyle), whose district includes the Tract D area, met with 40-50 Glen-wood residents to bring them abreast of new developments and to assure “people the county is speaking with one voice and that there is no change in Tract D as far as the county is concerned.”

#Quesnel added that the filing of the lawsuit “is the start of that’s going to be around for a while, un-fortunately.”

#Quesnel explained that the county’s motion for declaratory judgment and injunctive has two fronts: retrocession of police powers from the state to the Yakama in Tract D, and the age-old boundary line dispute between Klickitat County and the Yakama Nation.

#The county maintains it still holds all police power in the Tract D area. Quesnel said “there will be no change in how law enforcement, officers of the court, and other county officials treat this area,” which has long been under the county’s jurisdiction.

#The County Board directed Quesnel to initiate legal action during its March 22 meeting. Com-missioners also asked Quesnel to compile a list of law firms that specialize in this kind of litigation. On April 5, Quesnel presented to the board a Special Deputy Prosecutor Services Agreement with Foster Pepper, of Seattle, specific to the Glenwood/Tract D boundary iss-ue. The board approved it unanimously.

#During discussion of the motion, county commissioners “indicated that they were not pleased with having to defend the established boundary line but felt that the matter is something that needs to be settled.”


GOLDENDALE SENTINEL:  APRIL 13, 2016

GENERATIONS OF LAND DISPUTE: Tract D is the area outlined in red on this map dated 1992.

The turf dispute between Klickitat County and the Yakama Nation is about to ramp up. The tribe says that as of next Tuesday, April 19, it will consider the town of Glenwood and a significant part of the Glenwood Valley-Tract D-part of their reservation. With the backing of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the Yakama Nation has won its fight for retrocession of the territory-for the moment. Starting Tuesday, the tribe will begin addressing law enforcement issues related to tribe members in that area.

Yakama Nation map of Ceded Lands and Reservation Boundary

WIKIPEDIA MAP

AUG. 5, 2015

I was googling around doing some history research on William Frasier and came across this interesting bit about Frasier Creek.
I emailed them and asked them how they knew those rules.

I received a reply back from Powderhook:

======================

Thanks for writing.

Interesting answer for this one. Frasier Creek is in what is known as a disputed area. The spatial data we have is from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and shows almost all of Frasier Creek as being in the Yakima Tribal Boundary. A separate dataset from the state of Washington showing tribal lands shows Frasier Creek to be in a disputed area. So the answer is that Frasier Creek is probably accessible to anyone and the jurisdiction is uncertain. Do you know what signage exists on the ground?

From the Yakima Tribal website: The Yakama Nation Mt. Adams Recreation Area is a unique area of the Yakama Reservation. It is the only area within the Yakama Reservation forested boundary that is open to non-Yakama tribal members. Ownership of this area has been in dispute dating back to the Treaty of 1855. An 1890 survey of the Yakama Reservation, accepted by the General Land Office, did not include the Tract-D area. The original treaty map, which included the Tract-D area, was found in 1930 after being misplaced for decades. In the meantime 98,000 acres of the Glenwood Valley had passed into private ownership. Another 21,000 acres were part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest administered by the Department of Agriculture. After more than 100 years of dispute, in 1972 President Nixon by Executive Order 11670 authorized the return of the 21,000 acre portion of Mt. Adams, including the Summit, to the Yakama Nation.
Please make sure it is truly public before you access it. But, this is the best info we've got!
Take care,.....

From the July 8, 2015 Goldendale Sentinel
Written by Wayne Vinyard
Maps reveal Tract D historical 'corrections' may not be accurate

From the June 10, 2015 Goldendale Sentinel
Historian says Tract D history tells another story

I have read Andrew Fisher's book,  "SHADOW TRIBE  The Making of Columbia River Indian Identity"  and I believe it is an excellent source of information about the plight of the Columbia River Indian losing their identity to the Yakama Nation.  I highly recommend it as a source of information. 
I have read
1856 military documents stating  how much the Klickitat and Upper Cowlitz people use Kamas Lake.  The military leaders have meetings with tribal chiefs at Kamas Lake.  Interestingly, some of the military personnel openly state that Washington Territory governor Isaac Stevens is not interested in a settling peace with the Indians and he keeps them agitated. 
There are articles that say the Klickitat refused to attend the 1855 treaty signing and were unhappy when they found out Kamiakin had ceded their lands. 
Granted, those are all "white man's" accounts of what happened. 
There was a temporary  reservation set up in 1855 at the Joslyn Farm in White Salmon.  Anne Markgraf Ward refers to it in her book, 
Klickitat Saga 1805-1809.   It lasted for about three years and it extended into Camas Prairie.  One purpose of the WS reservation was to provide protection to the Native Americans who feared Kamiakin and his followers and a place to settle the Indians from the Vancouver, Clark County area. Some of those were the upriver Cowlitz who were related to the Klickitat people.  
Some of them were Klickitats who have moved into the  Willamette Valley after those tribes had been decimated by disease.  The U.S. Government told them they had to leave the Valley. 
Because
the U.S. government neglected to send the food supplies they had earlier agreed to provide, the Joslyn reservation was a rough existence.  They also lost many of their horses and cows because of inadequate grazing.  
The Government also neglected to pay Mr Joslyn for the confiscation of his farm and in 1859 he applies to congress for compensation.
I have not yet read any documents that clearly state that the Glenwood Valley, (Camas Prairie), is within Yakama Reservation boundaries.  Nor have I seen a copy of a map that was missing for thirty years, which shows the valley included within the Reservation Boundaries.  But, the Glenwood/ Tract D issue never goes away, which leads me to believe someone believes that the Glenwood Valley IS a part of the Yakama Indian Reservation. 
I do know that it is almost impossible to find a Washington State   map that does not show the Valley included in the reservation.  Sometimes, if you Google the Glenwood School, there is a website that will come up stating the school is on the Yakama Indian Reservation.
Both the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs, falls under the Department of Interior.  It will interesting to see what develops with Tract D and Conboy Wildlife Refuge.  In reference to the Sandhill Crane......
"A breeding population reestablished in the 1970s in the Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge on Reservation (in the Tract D area, outside of the Yakamas� Closed Area). Pairs have now also been documented at a few sites within the Closed Area. Although sandhill crane breeding areas were once fairly widespread on both sides of the Cascades, currently the Conboy Lake NWR and Yakama Reservation Closed Area sites are the only known places in the state where these cranes breed."  Yakama Nation Wildlife website

From the memoirs of Albert Thomson who came to Camas Prairie in the summer of about 1868.  He stayed with the herd of cows owned by E.S. Tanner of White Salmon. 
https://journals.lib.washington.edu/index.php/WHQ/article/viewFile/6419/5493

....The next year, 1867, he (Mr. Tanner) decided to go further on to Camas Prairie, twenty-four miles from the Columbia, a lovely valley some twelve miles long and from one mile to four miles wide, and a favorite summer playground of the Reservation Indians.  There had been no attempt at occupation by white man.  No house, no fence, and no white man had yet spent a winter there.  the Indians told of deep snows and terrible storms---to discourage settlers from coming, although the elevation was only 1400 feet above sea level.....

   I have not space to tell all I would like of that memorable summer's experiences;  of those hundreds of Indians, with their thousands of horses;  their weird songs and dances, their funerals and religious rites; of their desire to trade for cloth, sugar, flour and a hundred other "iktas"  (things);  their passion for gambling and horse racing.  All this, along with the, to me, uncouth Indian and Chinook language, was a new experience, as was also the free open air life, the cooking over a camp fire, and sleeping out under the stars at night on account of the musquitos.

 

Tribal sovereignty in the United States
...Tribal sovereignty in the United States is the inherent authority of indigenous tribes to govern themselves within the borders of the United States of America. The U.S. federal government recognizes tribal nations as "domestic dependent nations" and has established a number of laws attempting to clarify the relationship between the federal, state, and tribal governments. The reference to Indians in the Constitution is not to grant local sovereignty. The only references are:

Shown is the southwest portion of the original 1855 treaty map.

Ralph Sampson Jr. receives 89 cents a year from a farming lease on his family’s 80 acres of land northwest of Harrah on the Yakama reservation.

That’s because he’s one of scores of owners on the tribal property that is held in federal trust. Now, he’s interested in a federal program that would allow him and other family members who own only a fraction of the land to sell their shares to the tribal government.

“For me, that’s fine,” said Sampson, former chairman of the Yakama Tribal Council. “I can’t really do much with a postage-stamp size of ground.”

He’s not alone. There are 175,135 acres on the reservation with highly splintered ownership. The roots of the problem extend back more than a century.

In 1855, the Yakama Nation signed a treaty with the federal government that reserved more than 1.2 million acres of land for the tribe’s exclusive use. But more than three decades later, a congressional act forced upon the tribe a foreign concept — land ownership.

The Dawes Act of 1887, which assigned allotments of land to individual tribal members, has led to a complicated matrix of ownership with sometimes hundreds or even thousands of owners each with varying or unequal percentages of interest on one allotment of land.

This splintered ownership complicates paperwork for farming, mining and other leases, not to mention processing lease payments to landowners based on the fractions of interest they own. In many cases, no single owner has controlling interest of a given allotment and tracking down enough owners to form a lease is challenging at best.

As a result, much tribal land has been left out of production.

Now, a effort to unify much of the splintered ownership under fewer owners or the tribal government is underway, thanks to $1.9 billion earmarked by the federal government to fund a land buyback program on reservations across Indian country.

Funds for the nationwide program will be available until 2022, and are part of the $3.4 billion landmark Cobell settlement, which stems from a federal class-action lawsuit that accused the federal government of mismanaging individual Indian money accounts and tribal resources.

Under the program, the Yakama tribal government would be able to use up to $30 million from the settlement to purchase individual land shares from tribal members.

Out of a list of 40 tribes deemed a priority by the federal government, the Yakama reservation ranks 14. There are 175,135 acres split up by 53,239 ownerships that could quickly be consolidated under tribal government ownership, according the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Sampson said his family has yet to decide whether to enter the buyback program. The tribe is still working on establishing an office to roll out the program.

“I haven’t really talked to my family members to see what their thoughts are in the buyback program,” he said. “It’s not automatic. You have to have a consensus. We’re probably going to have a family meeting and discuss what our position would be.”

Fewer landowners would equate to simpler lease agreements and more reservation land in production, said Stan Speaks, regional director of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs in Portland.

“It would be manageable for tribes and owners and make BIA’s process easier by speeding up the leasing process and bring more income to landowners,” he said.

Not everyone will be willing to sell their land shares to the tribal government, but enough to make a sizable difference are expected to, Speaks said.

“But at least in the long run it will help the bureau’s trust obligation to carry out and process leases,” he said.

Sampson said land the tribal government buys from its members could be put into production, such as farms that would generate more revenue for additional governmental programs for members.

“Revenue from that would be a trust asset and eventually return to the people,” he said.

The Allotment Act

Commonly known as the General Allotment Act, the Dawes Act of 1887 assigned anywhere from 60 to 160 acres of land to individual tribal members on reservations across the country.

Tribal land is held in federal trust, but the allotment act allowed tribal members to sell their land allotments after 25 years. The provision was an effort to turn Native Americans into farmers and eventually dissolve reservations and tribes, said Chris Stainbrook, president of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation in Little Canada, Minn.

The idea was “Indian people could be farmers like Europeans were farmers,” he said. “The way it went, it was a land grab.”

But many held on to their land.

Because the allotment act didn’t include any formal provision or guidance for inheritance, land was subsequently handed down to surviving family members.

This began complicating land-ownership as time went on because ownership wasn’t always handed down evenly.

For example, if land was handed down to three siblings in which one had died, then his or her children would divide that share. Those shares are then divided again when handed down to the next generation.

This process has been playing out generation after generation across Indian country, Stainbrook said.

“It’s become an administrative nightmare,” he said. “I would think you have more unequal shares than equal shares on allotments throughout the country.”

Ownership of Samspon’s land is split among several of his aunts and uncles with his late father’s share divided among Sampson and his seven siblings.

“You can see how it can get exponentially fractured really quick,” he said.

Nationally, most shares equal 2 percent or less interest in 
allotments, according to a report from the Department of the Interior.

Of the 56 million acres of reservation land across the country, more than 10 million acres are held in federal trust for individual tribal members, the Department of the Interior report said.

Before the allotment act took effect, reservations covered 138 million acres, said Stainbrook, whose nonprofit organization is assisting in the federal land buyback program.

Finally the act was ended in 1934.

“At that point, 90 million acres in Indian ownership had been lost,” Stainbrook said.

Yakamas

Losing land is nothing new to the Yakama Nation, and neither is fighting to get it back.

When the confederated bands and tribes of the Yakama Nation signed the 1855 Treaty, they ceded 10 million acres of original territory to the federal government for the exclusive use of the 1.2-million-acre reservation. But incorrect surveying after the treaty was ratified resulted in the loss of reservation lands, including the east face of Mount Adams on the western border, Glenwood Valley on the southwestern edge and the Tampico area on the north end of the reservation.

In 1972, President Nixon by executive order returned the eastern face of Mount Adams to the tribe. The tribe also has been successful in regaining lands lost to non-Indians. Since 1980, the tribe has acquired more than 5,802 acres in Yakima County alone, according to the county Assessor’s Office.