Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Lummi Tribe in Treaty Fishing Dispute

Here is the court’s opinion in United States (Lower Elwha Klallam Indian Tribe) v. Lummi Tribe:

CA9 Opinion

The court’s syllabus:

The panel reversed the district court’s summary judgment entered in favor of the Klallam Tribe in a case involving a fishing territory dispute between two sets of Indian Tribes, brought pursuant to the continuing jurisdiction of the 1974 “Boldt Decree” issued by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The panel held that the issue of whether the waters immediately to the west of northern Whidbey Island were part of the Lummi Tribe’s usual and accustomed fishing grounds had not yet been determined. The panel held, therefore, that the district court erred in concluding that the issue was controlled by law of the case. The panel remanded to the district court for further proceedings.

Judge Rawlinson dissented because she would hold that the district court properly applied the law of the case doctrine where the fishing rights issue was addressed in the prior opinion United States v. Lummi Indian Tribe, 235 F.3d 443 (9th Cir. 2000).

Briefs and other materials here.

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