Yakama Nation members take tribe to federal court

Several members of the Yakama Nation of Washington are taking the tribe to federal court, citing frustration with the tribal court process.

Attorney Ted Mahr acknowledged the cases don't need to be heard in federal court. But he said the lawsuits are necessary because the tribal court is "unresponsive." "If they'd just treat their members accordingly, none of this would be happening," he told The Yakima Herald-Republic . "We wouldn't be in court."

In one case, Mahr said tribal members who had been fired for alleged misappropriation of funds waited four years before finding out their case was dismissed by the tribal court. In another case, he said the tribe is violating the Indian Civil Rights Act for the firing of the tribal casino board of directors.

The National Indian Justice Center released a report last year that found numerous problems with the Yakama court system. It found conflicts of interest, daily breaches of confidentiality and security, a mounting backlog of cases and a lack of any appeals process, according to the Associated Press.

Get the Story:
Yakamas take cases to federal court (The Yakima Herald-Republic 2/13)

Related Story:
Report finds Yakama Nation tribal court dysfunctional (AP 2/7)

Relevant Links:
National Indian Justice Center -

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