Environment | Law | Federal Recognition

Virginia tribes question interpretation of treaty fishing rights





The Pamunkey Tribe and the Mattaponi Tribe are questioning a new interpretation of their treaty fishing and hunting rights in Virginia.

Tribal members have been fishing and hunting without interference since a 1677 treaty. But a July 2013 opinion from then-attorney general Ken Cuccinelli (R) argues they must comply with state laws and regulations even though they aren't required to obtain state licenses.

"It's very confusing," Pamunkey Chief Kevin Brown told The West Point Tidewater Review. "They are looking at it differently than we do."

Now that a Cuccinelli is out of office, tribes and local officials are asking his successor, Mark Herring (D), to review the opinion and hold off on enforcement of state laws against tribal members.

The Pamunkey Tribe is on track to receive federal recognition. The Mattaponis are recognized by the state.

Get the Story:
Indian fishing rights under debate (The West Point Tidewater Review 4/16)

Attorney General Opinion:
12-044 (July 19, 2013)