New Student Scholarship on Applying the Culverts Decision to Anishinaabewaki

Nathan Frischkorn has posted “Treaty Rights and Water Habitat: Applying the United States v. Washington Culverts Decision to Anishinaabe Akiing,” forthcoming in the Arizona Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

In 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that culverts installed by the state of Washington which reduce the habitat of treaty-protected salmon violate the treaty rights of Tribes in western Washington. That decision—part of the long-running United States v. Washington litigation—has since become known as the “Culverts Case.” Broadly, that decision essentially holds that habitat protection is a component of treaty-protected rights to hunt, fish, and gather. This Article analyzes what habitat protection as a treaty right would mean for the water-based, treaty-protected resources—such as fish and manoomin (wild rice)—of the Anishinaabe Tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. This Article describes relevant treaties to determine what water-based resources those Tribes have treaty rights to, and analyzes relevant precedent that defines or limits the exercise or scope of those rights in state and federal courts. Through interviews with individuals who work with Tribes on issues pertaining to usufructuary rights, this Article identifies specific environmental threats to water-based treaty resources throughout the Great Lakes region. By analogizing those identified threats to the culverts at issue in United States v. Washington, this Article examines what habitat protection as a treaty right would mean in Anishinaabe Akiing.