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Tribal member reminded of importance of protecting Treaty rights

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Friday, 29 August, 2014


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At left, Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Nathan Small speaks. (Lori Edmo-Suppah photo)

Tribal members reminded of importance of protecting Treaty rights

By LORI EDMO-SUPPAH
Sho-Ban News
FORT HALL — Shoshone-Bannock tribal members were reminded it is their responsibility to learn how to protect Fort Bridger Treaty rights and the right is based on subsistence and not for the sporting aspect.
That is what Tribal Cultural Resources Director Darrell Shay told attendees at the Tribal Member Treaty Rights Workshop August 23 at the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Event Center. Approximately 100 people were in attendance.
He said when a tribal member hunts for sport it leads to erosion of Treaty rights. He emphasized that the Tribes are also not horn hunters and should only take what is needed to subsist upon. “Use common sense,” Shay said.
The workshop focused on Article IV of the Fort Bridger Treaty, “The Indians herein named agree…they will make said reservations their permanent home, and they will make no permanent settlement elsewhere; but they shall have the right to hunt on the unoccupied lands of the United States so long as game may be found thereon, and so long as peace subsists among the whites and Indian on the borders of the hunting districts.”
Concerning hunting districts Shay believes that is a term that came from the Stevens treaties – a series of treaties negotiated with western Washington tribes. The Fort Bridger Treaty is considered a Doty treaty and he said the Shoshone-Bannocks didn’t have hunting districts, they hunted in camps that depended on the seasons. The camps were based upon the food going after, “We didn’t always go back to the same spot.”
Shay’s presentation was titled, “Take Only What You Need,” and addressed subsistence versus sport; cultural, traditional care and use; sharing; uses of game/meat/hides, etc., along with taking care of “Earth Mother.”
He explained as a tribal member then one has to follow the Tribes rules because hunting is regulated. “If you do not accept and obey the Tribes rules then don’t hunt. Otherwise you have to comply and live under tribal rule.”
He added if you are a tribal member, then you have entered into a “Social Contract” by being one. You do not have to be a tribal member and if you don’t like the “contract” you can always dis enroll. “It’s that easy,” he said because that is how the “social contract” works. Hunting is one of the activities the Tribes participate in and is regulated by the Tribes otherwise the state of Idaho would regulate. “Therefore as a tribal member it is your responsibility to learn how to exercise this right and to protect it,” he continued.
Once an animal is killed, Shay said a prayer should be offered for the gift. He advised not to abuse the animal being hunted, if one is wounded it should be tracked down and killed. A traditional practice of giving away first kill should be taught to young hunters. Once one becomes an experienced hunter, share in good fortune. A tribal tradition is the strong and able have always had a responsibility to share with those less able to provide for themselves. Don’t sell the stuff you gather and know about. He encouraged hunters to take care of the animal and use all of it.
Shay advised common sense when hunting and remember why one is out there – if someone is inexperienced, then the more experienced should be showing them how. In contemporary times he says women are allowed to hunt and encouraged male family members to assist them.
He said the term “Deegai” in Shoshone is the word for hunt and “Hoawa” in Bannock. The Tinno case identified the use of the Shoshone and Bannock meaning of the word “hunt” and how it applied for salmon. He added when snagging, it is not hunting but fishing. “If you go and ‘hunt’ them that is when you walk the creeks and rivers – chase and corner the fish and spear it – that is how you ‘hunt’ for salmon,” Shay continued.
He said the Cutler case was another important precedence case that tested unoccupied lands.
Prior to Shay’s talk, Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Nathan Small gave the opening speech after veterans posted colors and a flag song was sung.
Small emphasized Article IV is about ensuring so long as game can be found and the Tribes are co-managers with the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. He encouraged attendees to thank the technical staff from Tribal Fisheries, Wildlife and Law Enforcement for doing, “A heck of a job – we’re seeing a lot more salmon coming back, we have a say in what’s doing on.”
He advised the heading of the seminar is “Take Only What You Need,” but sometimes it’s not just what you need but what your family needs are, “There are allowances to help them out and we’ve been doing traditionally for years – certain  members of family can hunt.”
Concerning residency he explained there was a time when there was no residency requirement for off reservation rights until the 1975 Big Game Code was enacted. Small said he’s not sure what was discussed but the FHBC did make it a requirement. Now there are requests from some tribal members living in surrounding towns who aren’t living on the reservation because of lack of housing or jobs to be allowed to exercise the right to hunt and fish. The FHBC did pass a resolution to allow within 30 miles of the reservation boundary but the council rescinded it a few days later because of pressure from resident tribal members who got upset and were wondering why the FHBC was allowing it. The resident tribal members thought the Treaty was being violated, but Small said they weren’t, they were just looking at the regulations. The chairman said it’s an issue that needs more extensive discussion among the council and the tribal membership.
Another issue that has been raised is method of getting the salmon. He gave history about tribal people spearing salmon along the Snake River and how it is still speared today but somewhere along the line tribal members started snagging salmon and using fish and line. A tribal member requested to hunt salmon with a bow. The council didn’t take action on it and may have actually frowned upon it, Small said. Another issue is non tribal member spouses and their involvement in harvesting salmon or wild game outside the reservation boundaries. He said some of the strictest responses is they can’t do anything. Small said the issues need further discussion.
In conclusion the chairman said the state of Idaho wanting to take control of federal lands would jeopardize Treaty rights. He’s been attending meetings in Boise on the issue and each time he travels to Washington D.C. he lets everyone know in the Senate and House that it would be violation of Treaty rights. The Tribes need to continue to keep an eye on it.
Tribal Fish and Wildlife Director Chad Colter said the FHBC recognized several years ago the need to inform and educate the tribal members how to protect and exercise Fort Bridger Treaty rights. He emphasized Article IV is a tribal right not an individual right. However an individual must exercise the right and protect it. He explained how Shoshone and Bannock people have always been a subsistence people who moved through the seasons to sustain food and it’s been documented through pictographs,  petroglyphs and Creation stories. Fish was a major player in lifestyle and based on historic accounts estimates on average Salmon River runs ranged between 32,000 and 600,000. The estimate of fish consumed per person was 700 pounds per year per person. “A lot of fish was relied upon,” he said.
Colter added one of the main drivers in the Treaty is so long as the game may be found thereon that is where the Tribes derive the co management authority to provide for population and habitat management both on and off the reservation. In order to do that, he said it takes a lot of time because there is a lot of different jurisdiction and management agencies. It’s a government to government process that is two tiered – the technical staff informs the council, comments are made and the process has worked. “The bottom line is the Tribes are striving to protect our interests for future generations,” he said.
He explained the fish consumption survey being conducted among tribal members and encourages participation. He said the state of Idaho wants to reduce fish consumption but the Tribes want to show we are a subsistence people and high consumers of fish. The five tribes in Idaho developed their own surveys to make sure consumers are protected. Colter also gave an overview of the Fish Accords, along with various projects the department is working on to protect the resources.
Dan Stone, Fish and Wildlife policy analyst addressed case law and development of regulations. He talked about the canons of Treaty construction and about key cases Ward v. Racehorse (U.S. Supreme Court 1896,) State v. Tinno (Supreme Court of Idaho, 1972); Swim v Bergland (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1985) and State v. Cutler (Supreme Court of Idaho, 1983.) He explained the significance of each case and also advised tribal members to know where they are when harvesting. Be informed on the status of land ownership and federal land boundaries. He said take home messages are the right to hunt was reserved by tribal ancestors that is an important issue – they thought enough to put it into the Treaty. He advised to continue the practices, don’t stop exercising rights and pass the teachings on to the next generations.
Stone added the Tribes protect the rights through regulations. If tribal members are unsure about anything, then ask attorneys, technical staff or council members. “Be an active participant in protecting Treaty rights,” he said.
Fish and Game Enforcement Captain Tom Wadsworth addressed tribal laws and regulations. He’s worked for 19 years with the department and learned much over the years. Tribal enforcement officers are all federal sworn officers and they work hand in hand with fish and wildlife. All of the enforcement officers are Shoshone-Bannock tribal members.
He showed a variety of slides showing work they do such as back country tactics and tracking, wildlife forensics, they do boat and snowmobile training to know how to operate equipment. They also do wildland arson investigations. Enforcement responsibilities include Treaty protection such as hunting, gathering, going to cultural and ceremonial areas; protecting tribal members while exercising rights from harassment; they maintain regulatory authority and jurisdiction.
Wadsworth said they patrol on reservation areas within reservation boundaries and off reservation Treaty areas on unoccupied lands of the United States. For some of ceremonial activities they assist with events such as the Agai Dika Gathering where they watch over tribal members for safety.
Concerning enforcement, the 1975 Game Code is where regulations are derived from, it’s how the department came into existence, along with the Fish and Game Commission (FHBC). The 1990 bond and forfeiture schedule, an ordinance to compliment the game code, provides civil jurisdiction over non-Indians on the reservation. If a non-Indian violates, the officer can pursue the violation.
The officers also enforce the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Law and Order Code. They do investigations, the citations are filed into the Tribal Court system that could result in penalties fines, restitution or loss of Treaty rights. He said they also do investigations off reservation, if a state agency cites, then tribal officers will perform an investigation, if it’s a tribal violation, they will request to move into Tribal Court. “We are regulating our  own — we want in our court to handle it,” Wadsworth said.
He emphasized tribal member responsibilities including know Article IV of the Treaty.
Know regulations for on reservation and off reservation. In the absence of regulations, it falls back to 1975 Game Code If a resident of the reservation you have off reservation Treaty rights but if a non resident you don’t have off reservation right.
Wadsworth said if tribal members are not sure about a situation then ask, “I would much rather educate and tell what can do than give a citation.” “Protect the Treaty think about what you’re doing out there.”
He also encouraged tribal members to report violations and teach younger generations — that’s our responsibility. Take only what you need. “Every tribal member represents the Tribe when out there,” he continued. “Be careful what you put on social media. The right to hunt is a tribal Treaty right not individual.”
Various displays from the Fish and Wildlife departments and other tribal departments were available throughout the workshop.
Chairman Small said another meeting will be held for tribal members in late September to discuss the residency, method of take and non member spouse issues.