Editorial: Probe of reservation homicides overdue

"U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Wednesday gave a huge boost to improving intergovernmental cooperation and communication between the Yakama Nation and the federal government.

During a Toppenish press conference, Gonzales promised a cold-case review of a series of unsolved homicides on the Yakama reservation that date from at least 1980. In so doing, federal agencies such as the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office will look at cases "that might benefit from new investigative resources and recent technological advancements in forensic science."

What was particularly significant about the announcement was the attorney general's acknowledgement of past jurisdictional and cultural friction between the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal members. While such friction may still exist, the underlying assumption is that he's going to work toward easing that it in new attempts to find answers to long-standing questions.

As reported earlier, at least a dozen women, and perhaps many more, have been discovered dead on the reservation since the 1970s. Some have been confirmed murders, while others died under circumstances that have never been determined or weren't considered criminal.

Connected or not, such a deplorable series of events cries out for closure, particularly for the families of the victims. These women are more than grisly statistics; they were human beings. If the federal government now has resources to vigorously pursue the cases, it is imperative they be marshaled as quickly and effectively as possible."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Probe of reservation homicides is much welcome and long overdue (The Yakima Herald-Republic 4/2)

Relevant Documents:
Press Release: Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales Visits Yakama Nation Indian Reservation (DOJ 3/29)

Related Stories:
Attorney General Gonzales visits Yakama Nation (3/30)