Lyle Point Returns to Yakama Nation (WA/OR)

May 16, 2007
Washington

May 15, 2007: Lyle Point, a culturally significant 33-acre peninsula on the Columbia River, considered sacred by the Yakama Nation, will be returned to the Nation. The conveyance will end a decades-long effort by the Yakama to regain land they have used for fishing for thousands of years, The Trust for Public Land announced Tuesday.

"Today, marks the return and protection of sacred land known as Nanainmi Waki ' Uulktt (place where the wind blows from two directions) to the Yakama people", said Charles F. Sams III, Director of TPL's Tribal & Native Lands Program. "Lyle Point, was once a village of the Cascade and Klickitat bands and is now a protected burial site of the Yakama Nation."

"This is a great day for the Yakamas--to get the land returned back for access to our fishing right areas. The younger generation will continue to exercise their Creator-given right to our very important salmon. The U.S. government promised us with their honorable word to uphold their trust responsibility. All Yakamas will benefit with this accomplishment by the current tribal council officials," said Lavina Washines, chair of the Yakama Nation Tribal Council.

Lyle Point, located at the confluence of the Klickitat and Columbia Rivers, about 75 miles east of Portland, has been a Yakama village, burial, and fishing site for thousands of years, but was lost to the Yakama when white settlers moved to the area in the mid-1800s.

TPL began its effort to protect Lyle Point in 1992, in response to a controversial proposal to build a 33-unit gated housing development on the scenic promontory. When Klickitat County approved a subdivision of the site into 33 lots, Tribal members and environmental groups began a series of protests that included a nine-month encampment on the site and litigation. In 1994, the Yakama and Warm Springs Tribes filed a lawsuit against the landowners. Protestors organized large marches in the state capitals of Oregon and Washington and picketed the offices of realtors listing the lots. TPL continued negotiations with the landowners, Klickitat Landing Partners, and held discussions with Tribal members to investigate potential options to protect and steward this sacred site.

In 2000, TPL acquired 27 of the lots from the original owner, and two years later, TPL acquired the remaining four lots from another party. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers purchased two lots for an in-lieu fishing site for Columbia River Tribal fishermen as part of the settlement of the litigation. After TPL acquired the majority of lots in 2000, Klickitat County passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of this property for park purposes.

TPL and the Yakama Indian Nation have entered into a contract to convey Lyle Point to the Nation.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds. TPL's Tribal & Native Lands Program was created to elevate partnerships with tribes and native communities to assist them in meeting their land conservation, natural resource restoration and cultural heritage objectives. TPL has assisted 55 tribes in 16 states in acquiring or protecting 126,535 acres for Tribal benefit. TPL also has an active acquisition program in the Columbia Gorge, where it has completed 65 transactions for properties that protect and preserve almost 17,000 acres for people to enjoy as parks and open space. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org.