Michigan COA Holds Mackinac Tribe Member May Have Treaty Rights

Here is the opinion in People v. Caswell:

Opinion

An excerpt:

Defendant, Walter Joseph Caswell, is a member of the Mackinac Tribe of Odawa and Ojibwa Indians (the “Mackinac Tribe”). In October 2018, a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officer cited defendant for spear fishing in a closed stream in violation of MCL 324.48715 and MCL 324.48711.1 Defendant moved to dismiss the charges on the ground that he was a member of an Indian tribe or band granted hunting and fishing rights by 1836 and 1855 treaties with the United States federal government. The Mackinac County district court granted defendant’s motion upon concluding that the Mackinac Tribe was entitled to rights under the relevant treaties. On appeal from the prosecutor, the Mackinac County circuit court reversed on the ground that the Mackinac Tribe was not federally recognized and that federal tribal recognition is a matter for initial determination by the United States Department of the Interior. We granted defendant’s delayed application for leave to appeal. For the reasons explained below, we vacate the circuit court’s order and remand the case to the district court for an evidentiary hearing consistent with this opinion.

Briefs:

353537_13_01.pdf-AT Brf

353537_16_01.pdf-AE Brf

353537_19_01.pdf-Reply

353537_29_01.pdf–Amicus 1

353537_32_01.pdf-Amicus 2