Speaking with Forked Tongues: Indian Treaties, Salmon, and the Endangered Species Act
44 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2008
As salmon runs began to be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the early 1990s, questions arose as to the impact of these listings on the 1855 treaties that Pacific Northwest Indian Nations had signed with the United States. In these treaties, Indian Tribes reserved for themselves and their citizens the right to take fish at their usual and accustomed fishing sites forever.
The author addresses the history of these treaties, their judicial interpretations through seven trips to the U.S. Supreme Court and more, and the question of the continuing validity of the treaties and the tribal fishing rights in view of ESA listings of salmon runs as threatened or endangered. These issue continue to be important ones today as the wild runs teeter on the brink of extinction, and as questions about the continuing enforceability of the treaties and the United States' obligation to protect tribal rights in salmon have not yet been answered.
Keywords: Indian fishing rights, Indian treaty rights, salmon, Endangered Species Act, Stevens treaties, usual and accustomed fishing sites
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