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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in the Northwest: A local teen robbery gang was on the move, and a former Idaho governor advocated for the Yakima tribe

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

Two more members of a Spokane gang of youthful burglars were arrested in Portland – caught in the act of ransacking homes in that city.

Pete Raby and Steve Martin, both 18, were in possession of some of the Spokane plunder when arrested, along with spoils from Portland homes. Both were carrying guns but were apparently arrested without incident.

Several other members of the gang had already been arrested a few weeks earlier in Spokane. They had backed up trucks to the homes of Spokane residents who were wintering in California and carted off dozens of items.

Raby was from Bonners Ferry and Martin was from Sandpoint. Spokane authorities said if Portland authorities did not convict them of felonies, the duo would be brought back to Spokane to face trial along with the other gang members.

From the treaty beat: W.J. McConnell, a former Idaho governor, made public a letter he wrote in 1897, detailing “the injustices perpetrated upon the Yakima Indians by the taking from them of their fishing rights.”

This issue was back in the news in 1921 because of a ruling restoring some of those rights.

Yet McConnell said the government should have rectified the situation long before, since he had discovered the injustice when he was an Indian agent. He detailed it in his 1897 letter.

McConnell said that the tribe was essentially cheated out of 50,000 acres and possibly 75,000 acres because a survey establishing the reservation “totally ignored the lines” that had been designated in the original treaty agreement. That tract included a fishing ground vital to the tribe.

McConnell said the fishery was “wrested” from the tribe.

McConnell went on to become an Idaho senator and governor after serving at the Yakima Agency and was by then retired in Moscow, Idaho.

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