New Scholarship on Sohappy v. Smith/United States v. Oregon

Michael C. Blumm and Cari Baermann have posted “The Belloni Decision and Its Legacy: United States v. Oregon and Its Far-Reaching Effects After a Half-Century” on SSRN. It is forthcoming in Environmental Law.

Abstract:

Fifty years ago, Judge Robert Belloni handed down an historic treaty fishing rights case in Sohappy v. Smith, later consolidated into United States v. Oregon, which remains among the longest running federal district court cases in history. Judge Belloni ruled that the state violated Columbia River tribes’ treaty rights by failing to ensure “a fair share” to tribal harvesters and called upon the state to give separate consideration to the tribal fishery and make it management priority co-equal with its goals for non-treaty commercial and recreational fisheries. This result was premised on Belloni’s recognition of the inherent biases in state regulation, despite a lack of facial discrimination. 

The decision was remarkable because only a year before, in Puyallup Tribe v. Department of Game, the U.S. Supreme Court seemed to accord considerable deference to state regulation of tribal harvests (which it would soon clarify and circumscribe). Instead of deference, the Belloni decision reinstated burdens on state regulation that the Supreme Court had imposed a quarter-century earlier, in Tulee v. Washington, but seemed to ignore in its Puyallup decision. The directive for separate management was prescient because otherwise, tribal harvests would remain overwhelmed by more numerous and politically powerful commercial and recreational fishers. 

Judge Belloni eventually grew tired of resolving numerous conflicts over state regulation of the tribal fishery, calling for the establishment of a comprehensive plan, agreed to by both the state and the tribes, to manage Columbia Basin fish harvests. Eventually, such a plan would be negotiated, implemented, and amended over the years. Today, the Columbia River Comprehensive Management plan is still in effect a half-century after the Belloni decision, although the district court’s oversight role is now somewhat precariously perched due to statements by Belloni’s latest successor. Nonetheless, the plan remains the longest standing example of tribal-state co-management in history and a model for other co-management efforts. This article examines the origins, effects, and legacy of the Belloni decision over the last half-century.

New Scholarship on Indian Treaty Rights and Fossil-Fuel Exports Projects in the Pacific Northwest

Michael C. Blumm & Jeffrey Litwak have posted “Democratizing Treaty Fishing Rights: Denying Fossil-Fuel Exports Projects in the Pacific Northwest,” forthcoming in the Colorado Natural Resources, Energy & Environmental Law Review, on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

Indian treaty fishing rights scored an important judicial victory recently when an equally divided U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s decision in the so-called “culverts case,” which decided that the Stevens Treaties of the 1850s give the tribes a right to protect salmon migration obstructed by barrier road culverts. The implications of that decision on other habitat damaging activities have yet to be ascertained, but even prior to the resolution of the culverts case there were significant indications that federal, state, and local administrative agencies were acting to protect treaty fishing rights from the adverse effects of large fossil-fuel export projects proposed throughout the Pacific Northwest. After briefly explaining the culverts decision, this article examines five recent examples of agencies denying permits for fossil-fuel developments at least in part of treaty rights grounds. We draw some lessons from these examples concerning the importance of tribal participation in administrative processes and explore some knotty evidentiary issues that tribal efforts to protect their historic fishing sites may entail. We conclude that safeguarding their treaty rights in the 21st century will require tribes to be as vigilant about the administrative process as they have been about seeking judicial protection.

Makah Whaling Cert Petition

Here is the petition in Makah Indian Tribe v. Quileute Indian Tribe & Quinault Indian Tribe:

2018-05-21 makah cert petition and appendix

Question presented:

The question presented is whether the Ninth Circuit—in conflict with the decisions of this Court and other courts—properly held the Treaty of Olympia confers this expansive “fishing” right.

Lower court materials in United States v. Washington subproceeding 09-01 here.

Washington v. United States Background Materials [culverts]

Oral argument transcript: oral argument transcript

Merits stage briefs:

17-269ts Petitioners Brief

17-269bsUnitedStates

17-269-bs-Tribal Respondents

Amici in Support of Petitioners:

Idaho and 10 Other States Brief

Pacific Legal Foundation Brief

Modoc Point Irrigation District Brief

Business Organizations Brief

Citizens Equal Rights Foundation Brief

American Forest & Paper Association and National Mining Association Brief

Washington State Association of Counties and Association of Washington Cities

Amici Supporting Respondents:

NCAI amicus brief

Fishermans Associations amicus brief

Warm Springs et al amicus brief

Daniel J. Evans amicus brief

State and Local Officials amicus brief

Professors amicus brief

Other docs:

Recusal Letter

Ninth Circuit panel decision here. Briefs:

State’s Opening Brief

Oregon Amicus

Tribal Brief

US Brief

Indian Law Professors

Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations

En banc stage briefs:

Washington Rehearing/En Banc Petition

Idaho and Montana Amicus Brief

Klamath Critical Habitat Landowners Amicus Brief

US Response

Tribal Response

District court materials are here:

Tribal Motion for Summary Judgment

State Motion for Summary Judgment

District Court Opinion

 

Skokomish Suit against Suquamish Council Members Dismissed in Federal Court

Here are the materials in Skokomish Indian Tribe v. Forsman (W.D. Wash.):

15 Motion to Dismiss

19 Response

20-2 Sklallam Amicus Brief

22 Reply

34 DCT Order

Amended Panel Decision in the Culverts Case

Here. All aspects of the substantive holding are retained. This new order adds analysis on a couple of issues (recoupment and the State’s futility argument). No word yet on the court’s response to the request for rehearing en banc.

View previous coverage here and here and here.

En banc stage briefs:

Washington Rehearing/En Banc Petition

Idaho and Montana Amicus Brief

Klamath Critical Habitat Landowners Amicus Brief

US Response

Tribal Response

Panel materials here.

State v. Joseph: Washington Cannot Prosecute Tribal Members for Illegally Harvesting Geoducks

Here is the opinion from King County District Court:

Joseph crim decision 4.4.11

Thanks to M.T. for sending this along.

Suquamish Tribe Files Cert Petition in U.S. v. Washington Dispute

Here is the petition in Suquamish Tribe v. Upper Skagit Tribe: Suquamish Cert Petition.

Here is the question presented:

Whether a court implementing an unambiguous court order is bound to apply that order according to its plain terms, or whether the court should instead determine whether the judge who initially issued the order “intended something other than its apparent meaning,” as the Ninth Circuit held in this case.

Lower court materials here.

Douglas Harris on the Boldt Decision in Canada

Douglas C. Harris posted his paper,The Boldt Decision in Canada: Aboriginal Treaty Rights to Fish on the Pacific, part of THE POWER OF PROMISES: RETHINKING INDIAN TREATIES IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, Alexandra Harmon, ed., University of Washington Press, 2008. Here is the abstract:

The Oregon Boundary Treaty of 1846 established the forty-ninth parallel as the boundary between British and American interests in western North America. After 1846, Aboriginal peoples to the north of the border negotiated with the British Crown the terms of their coexistence with incoming settlers, those to its south with the United States. As a result, while some of the Coast Salish and Kwak’waka’wakw peoples in what would become British Columbia concluded treaties between 1850 and 1854 with the Crown’s representative, James Douglas, the tribes in the United States settled with the governor of the Washington territory, Isaac I. Stevens, in 1854 and 1855.

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