Our ancestors signed the Treaty of Point Elliott and reserved for future generations to right to hunt and gather on lands throughout the state of Washington. Yet, today, the state of Washington and, sadly, some neighboring tribes, seek to deny us these basic rights, claiming that we lost them in the 1970s when a court refused to allow us to have our treaty fishing rights declared because we were not federally-recognized at the time. It’s time to tell our story.
The Snoqualmie Tribal Council authorized a federal lawsuit against the State of Washington captioned Snoqualmie Indian Tribe v. State of Washington, et al., No. 3:19-cv-06227-RBL (W.D. Wash.) in late 2019. In this case, the Tribe asks the court to declare that the Tribe (1) is a signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott and (2) the Tribe’s reserved hunting and gathering rights under the Treaty of Point Elliott have not been taken away by Congress.
The Tribe has been engaged in a long dispute with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (“Department”) over an issue at the core of the Tribe existence – whether it is a signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott and entitled to exercise its reserved hunting and gathering rights thereunder. The Department’s actions since May 2019 have repeatedly shown disregard and disrespect for the Tribe’s status as a federally recognized sovereign tribe and as treaty signatory with federally reserved hunting and gathering rights.
The importance of these Treaty rights to the Snoqualmie people cannot be understated. It is a priority of the Snoqualmie Tribal Council to ensure that Tribal members who wish to exercise their Treaty hunting and gathering rights may do so in a manner that does not subject them to potential State criminal prosecution.
The case is currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It will take many take years to get this issue decided. The State – and numerous other tribes, such as Tulalip, who fought our re-recognition – are vigorously fighting to deny our Tribe’s treaty rights. We are ready for this battle.
“The Snoqualmie Tribe is incredibly disappointed to see some tribes and well-known tribal leaders abandon traditional teachings and values by distorting the record and siding with the State of Washington in an attempt to deny the Snoqualmie people their treaty rights.”