July 27, 2020

Upholding Tribal Treaties with the Clean Water Act

Amanda Rogerson and Michael Lopez

During the nineteenth century, numerous tribal nations in the Pacific and Inland Northwest signed treaties with the United States. Through these treaties, Pacific and Inland Northwest tribes ceded millions of acres of the land they had called home for millennia. These tribes also reserved to themselves, through these treaties, however, certain rights vital to their way of life, including the right to continue fishing at all traditional places for subsistence, ceremonial, and commercial purposes—a practice “not much less necessary to the existence of the Indians than the atmosphere they breathe[].” United States v. Winans, 198 U.S. 371, 381 (1905).

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