The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Herrera v. Wyoming
, a treaty rights case, on January 8, 2019.
The outcome will determine whether citizens of the Crow Tribe
can be prosecuted for hunting on off-reservation treaty territory in the state of Wyoming.
The lower courts have ruled that they lost those rights when Wyoming was admitted to the Union.
The case is notable in that the Supreme Court typically does not agree to hear cases in which an Indian or tribal plaintiff has lost at the lower level. But Clayvin Herrera, who was convicted for killing a trophy elk in the Bighorn
of Wyoming, has a powerful supporter of his treaty rights -- the Trump administration.
"The Crow did not lose their right under the 1868 treaty to hunt on unoccupied lands of the United States when Wyoming became a state," the Department of Justice wrote in a brief in support of Herrera
Herrera also has many supporters in Indian Country, with the Crow Tribe
, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes
, two Ute tribes
and treaty tribes from the Pacific Northwest
submitting briefs in support. More than a dozen tribes signed onto a brief filed by the National Congress of American Indians
According to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, whose treaty includes an off-reservation hunting provision identical to that of the Crow Tribe, "a state’s admission to the Union on an equal footing does not extinguish treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather off-reservation because Indian treaty rights can 'co-exist with state management of natural resources.'"
Non-Indians are paying close attention too. The Wyoming Stock Growers Association
, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
, Safari Club International
and the states of Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas
all opposing Herrera. The Citzen Equal Rights Foundation and the Mille Lacs Equal Rights Foundation
-- two anti-Indian groups -- also filed a brief against Herrera.
According to the six states, which are home to dozens of tribes, "the decided nature of the termination of the Crow Tribe’s off-reservation hunting rights is clear."
The Trump administration is seeking to participate in the upcoming. The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the November 15 motion
Herrera v. Wyoming
Supreme Court's current term, which began in October. Arguments already took place in the prior cases: Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den
on October 30 and Carpenter v. Murphy
on November 27. Decisions are pending in both cases.
Briefs from Tribal Supreme Court Project
Brief for Petitioner [Clayvin Herrera]
Amicus Brief of Eastern Shoshone Tribe
Amicus Brief of Indian Law Professors
Amicus Brief of Natural Resources Law Professors
Amicus Brief of Southern Ute Indian Tribe and Ute Mountain Ute
Amicus Brief of National Congress of American Indians, et al.
Amicus Brief of Pacific and Inland Northwest Treaty Tribes
Amicus Brief of Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall
Amicus Brief of Timothy P. McCleary, et al.
Amicus Brief of Crow Tribe of Indians
Amicus Brief of United States
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