Published on May 20, 2019
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) applauds the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion issued today in Herrera v. Wyoming, a tribal treaty rights case.
In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the Crow Tribe of Indians’ treaty right to hunt on unoccupied lands within the United States survives Wyoming’s establishment as a state, noting that this right remains unless it is expressly repealed by an act of Congress or “a termination point in the treaty itself has been satisfied.” Justice Sotomayor, writing the opinion on behalf of the majority, stated “there simply is no evidence that Congress intended to abrogate the 1868 Treaty right through the Wyoming Statehood Act.” The case was vacated and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the Court’s opinion.
NCAI President Jefferson Keel stated, “Once again, the Supreme Court has affirmed that treaty rights are the supreme law of the land, and they continue in perpetuity unless expressly repealed by an act of Congress.” The long anticipated decision in Herrera v. Wyoming comes after a similar decision upholding tribal treaty rights in Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den Inc.
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