Every summer, Brian Frederickson soars above the reservation in a federal Drug Enforcement Administration helicopter — over forested lands closed to all but the Indians, crop rows as straight as a ruler, the small towns that dot the Yakima Valley floor.
A lieutenant with the Yakama Nation tribal police force, Frederickson is one of the most skilled "spotters" in a multiagency task force aimed at getting rid of illegal pot statewide. Each year the team has been more successful. Each year the job has become more difficult, as growers with ties to Mexican cartels go to greater lengths to hide their efforts.
"This is the different planting style they're using now," the burly lieutenant said as his computer screen filled with an aerial photograph showing a thick canopy of pine trees and a few pot plants peeking out beneath them. "In this grow they put a lot of effort into it. All the drip irrigation line was buried. You couldn't see it from the air."
Like most voters in and around the reservation, Frederickson said he opposed legalizing a substance he has worked so hard to get rid of.
"Alcohol has such an impact here," Frederickson said. "I don't see how anyone can logically think marijuana won't have an impact. We went from one substance that's legal. Now we have two to deal with."
Eleanor Davis had a personal reason to vote against Initiative 502. A tribal elder with a deeply lined face, she spent 20 years at the Youth Treatment Center here, counseling young men and women with substance abuse problems.
Davis, 67, comes from "five or six generations of alcoholism." She finds it easier to tally the sober members of her extended family than the ones who are still struggling.
Then there are the loved ones she lost, a list that includes the 23-year-old daughter who died of alcohol poisoning and the 21-year-old grandson — her dead daughter's boy — who got drunk and got behind the wheel of his car after a party.
His Indian name was Kush-a. He has been gone for five years. A small white cross marks the place on the highway where he died.
"After he passed away, that's when I thought about what my grandmother said," recounted Davis, who has been sober for 27 years. "You have to go out in the community, and you have to let people know."
About alcohol. And, now, about marijuana. Because once a joint is as easy to buy as a six-pack, "It's just going to create more damage to our people," she said.
"And they just don't need that."