National | Politics

Yakama Nation spars with county official over road resurfacing

Chairman JoDe Goudy of the Yakama Nation speaks at the Native Nations Rise rally in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com / More on Flickr

The Yakama Nation is firing back at a local official who doesn't think the tribe should benefit from a road resurfacing project on the reservation.

The $850,000 project is being funded entirely by gas tax revenues in Washington, The Yakima Herald-Republic reported. But since the tribe and its citizens do not pay those taxes directly to the state, a commissioner in Yakima County is questioning whether the work should go forward.

“This project needs to be done, but it’s not on land that’s contributing revenue,” Commissioner Mike Leita said at a meeting on Tuesday, the paper reported. “The reality is we’re getting short-changed.”

The tribe came back with an offer, though. If the county gives up its jurisdiction and authority on the reservation, it won't have to worry about the road, attorney M. Patrice Kent said in a statement given to the paper.

“The Yakama Nation has more than paid for the county’s roads,” the statement read. “We ceded certain interests in lands that make up over one-third of the present state of Washington.”

"Our taxes have been paid," the tribe asserted.

The Yakama Treaty of 1855 is unique in that it ensures that tribal citizens can bring goods to the market without state interference. The provision has been interpreted in the courts to prohibit taxation of gasoline sales on the reservation.

Read More on the Story:
Yakima commissioner wants Yakamas to pay for reservation road improvements (The Yakima Herald-Republic 5/16)