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9th Circuit reverses decision in Lummi, S’Klallam fishing dispute

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 19 reversed a U.S. District Court judge’s ruling regarding usual and accustomed fishing areas of the Lummi Nation and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Courthouse News Service reports.

The 1974 decision by U.S. District Court Judge George Boldt in U.S. v. Washington upheld the rights of signatories to 1850s treaties to fish in their usual and accustomed areas. The Lummi Nation claims its usual and accustomed area includes an area disputed by the S'Klallams and the Skokomish Tribe.

According to Courthouse News Service, the S’Klallam governments petitioned the court to have Lummi held in contempt for fishing in the eastern portion of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. “U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez sided with the S'Klallam in 2011 and said the issue ‘has been finally determined and may not be re-litigated,’” Courthouse News Service reports.

Martinez determined the Lummi Nation's U&A did not include the “eastern portion of the Strait of Juan de Fuca or the waters west of Whidbey Island, an area more specifically described as the marine waters east of a line running from Trial Island near Victoria, British Columbia, to Point Wilson at the westerly opening of Admiralty Inlet, bounded on the east by Admiralty Inlet and Whidbey Island, and bounded on the north by Rosario Strait, the San Juan Islands, and Haro Strait."

The Lummi Nation appealed to the 9th Circuit, which reversed the decision 2-1.

Here are links to the Courthouse News Service stories:

— Reversal by 9th in Tribal Fishing Rights Dispute

— Lummi Tribe's Fishing Case Faces Off in the 9th

 

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