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Puyallup Tribe, Inc. v. Washington Dep't of Game

ELR Citation: 7 ELR 20558
Nos. No. 76-423, 433 U.S. 165/(U.S., 06/23/1977)

In its third decision on the fishing rights of Washington's Puyallup Tribe, the Supreme Court holds that the tribe's right to the steelhead anadromous fish within the reservation is not exclusive and is subject to state regulation for conservation purposes. While continuing to affirm the sovereignty of the tribe, the Court finds that the state court can exercise jurisdiction over individual members of the tribe.The treaty right of the Indians to fish at "usual and accustomed places" is exercised in common with all citizens of the state and is subject to reasonable regulation by the state pursuant to its power to conserve an important natural resource. Acknowledging that the tribe had an unlimited right to the fish in the Puyallup River running through the reservation would frustrate the jurisdiction of the state courts and would violate the rights of non-Indian citizens recognized in the treaty. Finally, the Court affirms the standard of conservation necessity established by the trial court.

A concurrence doubts the continuing validity of tribal immunity. A dissent to the majority's interpretation of the tribe's substantive treaty rights disputes the authority of the state to regulate on-reservation fishing on the grounds that the treaty gave the Indians exclusive fishing rights within their reservation.

Counsel for Petitioners
William H. Rodgers Jr.
Georgetown University Law Center
600 New Jersey Ave., NW, Washington DC 20001

Daniel M. Friedman, Acting Solicitor General; Peter R. Taft, Ass't Attorney General; H. Bartow Farr III, Ass't to the Solicitor General; Edmund B. Clark, George Hyde
Justice Department, Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2201

Counsel for Respondents
Don S. Willner
Willner, Bennett, Riggs & Skarstad
Suite 1400, One SW Columbia, Portland OR 97258
(503) 228-6611

Slade Gorton, Attorney General; Edward B. Mackie, Dep. Attorney General
Temple of Justice, Olympia WA 98504
(206) 753-2550