Environment | Law

9th Circuit allows Lummi Nation to pursue fishing rights claims






Members of the Lummi Nation take to the waters. Photo from Lummi Nation

The Lummi Nation will be able to pursue its treaty fishing rights claims thanks to a decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

By a 2-1 vote, the court said a part of the tribe's "usual and accustomed" fishing grounds have not been determined. The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe had been trying to exclude the Lummi from certain areas.

A prior decision in the dispute is "ambiguous regarding whether the waters immediately to the west of northern Whidbey Island are included within the Lummi U&A, and accordingly that this issue has not yet been decided explicitly or by necessary implication," the court stated.

The dispute is a sub-proceeding in the long-running U.S. v Washington fishing rights case. In 1974, the late Judge George Hugo Boldt held that tribes in the state were entitled to half of the entire catch.

Since then, several tribes have been litigating the areas where they can and cannot fish. The dispute between the Lummis and the Sklallam tribes dates back to 1989.

The 9th Circuit has posted the oral argument from Friday's hearing. Turtle Talk has posted documents from the appeal and the lower court case, US v. Washington, sub-proceeding 11-02 .

Get the Story:
Reversal by 9th in Tribal Fishing Rights Dispute (Courthouse News Service 8/20)

9th Circuit Decision:
Lower Elwha Klallam Indian Tribe v. Lummi Nation (August 19, 2014)

Related Stories:
Lummi Nation argues for treaty fishing rights in disputed areas (04/15)