SPOKANE — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dismissed Klickitat County’s claim to part of the Yakama Indian Reservation, likely ending a dispute that has raged for more than a century.
The court dismissed the county’s appeal without comment.
Klickitat County had argued that 121,465 acres in the southwest portion of the reservation, including the eastern half of Mount Adams and the Glenwood Valley, were not actually included when the reservation was created.
“The Supreme Court’s decision once again validates the continued strength of our treaty rights under the United States Constitution,” said Yakama Tribal Council President Delano Saluskin. “The Yakama Nation will never compromise when our treaty is at stake.”
The dispute involved ambiguous language in the tribe’s 1855 treaty with the U.S. government.
Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens, who drafted the treaty, wrote that the southwest boundary of the reservation ran “south and east of Mount Adams, to the spur from which flow the waters of the rivers Klickatat and Pisco”.
The tribe said such a spur did not exist and that the Yakama Nation had always understood Mount Adams and the land known as Tract D to be reservation land.
This position was confirmed by the Indian Claims Commission in 1966, by an Executive Order of President Richard Nixon in 1972, and by federal surveyors in 1982, as well as by numerous previous court cases.