Date: Fri, 19 Feb, 1999

Small Makah Force will Keep the Peace

by Jesse Hamilton, Peninsula Daily News

Neah Bay--Makah Tribal Police Chief Lionel Ahdunko said his small force is still preparing to keep the peace during the planned whale hunt.

But Ahdunko won't be available late in April because he must face trial on 1997 felony charges from his time as chief of the Washoe Tribe's police in Nevada.
"I'm too busy up here to even worry about that," he said Thursday.

Ahdunko turned himself in to US marshals when the whaling issue was at its emotional height in November.

A minor traffic accident in his past could mean the possibility of time in jal because it resulted in two counts of making false statements.

Information was distributed by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society--the main protest group battling the plan to kill gray whales. The probe is about a Bureau of Indian Affairs investigation finding Ahdunko had allegedly falsified the report of a traffic accident he was in. He had also been accused by investigators of having one of his officers back up his story.

Ahdunko was driving a patrol car when he was involved in an accident. The item of contention: he claimed to have been on duty at the time.

Though damage was about $250, Ahdunko faces an April 27 trial in Reno to respond to how he handled the situation.

Federal agencies and courts have jurisdiction over tribal criminal matters.

The Makah Tribal Council expresses support for the police chief. Chairman Ben Johnson Jr. said the council knew about Ahdunko's past, but members only cared about his plans for the tribe's small department.
"We never did have a problem with it," Johnson said. "Just people trying to raise Cain and cause troubles."

Ahdunko said he's focusing on his job rather than the trial two months and two states away.
"I've got more important issues to worry about than the Reno issue."

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