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The Kennewick Man Case | Court Documents | Amici Curiae

Motion of the Yakama Nation for Leave to Appear as Amicus Curiae and supporting Memorandum

Tim Weaver
Cockrill & Weaver, P.S.
316 N. Third St.
PO Box 487
Yakima, WA 98907
Phone: (509) 575-1500
Fax: (509) 575-1227

Thomas A. Zeilman
Yakama Nation Office of Legal Counsel
PO Box 151, Fort Rd.
Toppenish, WA 98948
Phone: (509) 865-7268
Fax: (509) 865-4713

Attorneys for intervention applicant Yakama Nation

In the Unitead States District Court for the District of Oregon

Robson Bonnichsen, et al.,


United States of America, et al.,
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation
Proposed Intervenor

Motion of Yakama Nation for Leave to Appear as Amicus Curiae

The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation hereby moves this Court for an order permitting the Yakama Nation to appear and participate as amicus curiae in this case.

This motion is made based on the record in this case and the memorandum in support of this motion that is submitted here with.

Memorandum in Support of Yakama Nation's Motion for Leave to Appear as Amicus Curiae

The confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation is a federally recognized Indian nation that has inhabited and occupied the mid-Columbia River Basin since time immemorial. The people of the Yakama Nation have always used the natural resources of that area for their cultural survival, and they continue to practice their traditional ceremonies and ways of life. In the Treaty of 1855 the Yakama Nation reserved rights to use resources throughout its original territory, which now constitutes over one quarter of the State of Washington. See 12 Stat. 951.

The human remains excavated near Kennewick by Dr. James Chatters on July 28, 1996 are called Techaminsh Oytpamanatityt, meaning "from teh land the first native" in the language of the Yakama people. The Yakama Nation has claimed the remains as an ancestor, and is a signatory party to a Joint Claim of Custody also signed by four other Indian tribes. The claim was filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, on January25, 2000.

The issues in this case are of critical importance to the Yakama Nation and all Indian tribes throughout the United States. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), 25 U.S.C. 3001 et. seq., was enacted by Congress to correct past practices among non-Indians which were injurious to Indian culture. The present lititgation has presented a challenge to an administrative action taken by a federal agency under that statutue, and it is important for the Court to hear the legal opinions of Indian tribes that are affected. NAGPRA is a matter of first impression for this Court, and most of the statute's provisions have not been tested in other federal courts either.

This Court has broad discretion to appoint amici curiae, including those that may be interested in vindicating federal rights. Hoptowit v Ray, 682 F2d 1237, 1260 (9th Cir. 1982). As a federally-recognized soveriign that comes within the definition of "Indian tribe" under 2 (17) of NAGPRA (25 U.S.C. 3001(7)), the Yakama Nation has unique legal knowledge and perspective that would be of great assistant to the Court in this case. The Yakama Nation respectfully requests permission to appear and participate in this case as amicus curiae for the purpose of providing this Court with its views on the remedial intent of NAGPRA and how the statute should be applied by federal agencies in conformity with that intent.

Dated this 29th day of September, 2000.
Tim Weaver, WSBA #3364
Cockrill & Weaver, P.S.
Attorney for intervention applicant
Yakama Nation

Thomas Zeilman WSBA 28470
Yakama Nationa Office of Legal Counsel
Attorney for intervention applicant
Yakama Nation

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