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FBI investigating death of former Yakama Nation tribal councilman, fisheries expert

Patrick Luke

Yakama Nation leader Patrick Luke was sworn in Thursday, July 28, 2016 as the chairman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

Federal officials continue to investigate the killing of former Yakama Nation tribal councilman Patrick Luke.

Officials recently identified Luke, 57, as the man whose body was found inside his burning home in White Swan on June 22. Authorities believe the fire was set to cover Luke’s killing.

FBI spokesman Steve Berndt said the investigation is ongoing, but declined to provide additional details on the case. Federal officials are investigating because Luke was a Yakama citizen and the killing is believed to have occurred within the boundaries of the reservation.

Yakima County Coroner Jim Curtice said Luke’s death is classified as a homicide, but he is waiting for toxicology and other tests to be completed before stating how Luke was killed.

Firefighters found Luke’s body after extinguishing a fire at his Coburn Loop Road home, according to the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office.

Luke is one of 22 people killed in Yakima County in 2020.

Luke, who was working as a commercial fisher at the time of his death, served on the Yakama Nation’s Tribal Council from April 2014 to March 2017. He chaired the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, the body that manages tribal fisheries.

Born in Pendleton, Ore., Luke enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after high school, and then worked as a fisherman in Alaska for more than a decade, according to news reports and his obituary. He earned an associate degree in biology from Blue Mountain Community College in 2003, and a bachelor’s in fisheries and wildlife at Oregon State University in 2007. He was working on a master’s degree in public administration from The Evergreen State College.

He worked as a fish culturist with the Yakama Nation’s Klickitat Salmon Hatchery and was a biologist of the Pacific Lamprey Project, which worked to protect and restore the lamprey population.

Reach Donald W. Meyers at dmeyers@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: donaldwmeyers, or https://www.facebook.com/donaldwmeyersjournalist.

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