The very austere judges of the Supreme Court in Washington will escape Wednesday to the great outdoors of the American West, to look very seriously at the migration of salmon and the ancestral rights of Indian tribes. [19659002OfcoursetheywillmakethisjourneywithoutleavingtheirmajesticcourtroomwithmarblecolumnsonCapitolHillButthedebateswilltakethemphotosandtestimoniesinsupporteveninthebedoftorrentsthatrundowntheothersideoftheRockies
This transfer will also be temporal. Indeed, to grasp the issue of the issue to be decided, we must return to the nineteenth century.
This is the century of the Wild West conquest, adventurous settlers, the Great Plains Railway, the Telegraph, and the Indian Wars.
In the mid-1850s, not all lands in America were states attached to the Union.
The "Washington Territory" is to be found in the north-west of the country. His first governor, Isaac Stevens, is highly controversial as he is intractable towards the Amerindians.
– Sacrified Hunting, Preserved Fishing –
Brutally repressing the revolts, Governor Stevens forces the tribes to sign treaties that rob them of their hunting territories.
Withdrawn from the reserves, the Indians retain in compensation a fishing right in the watercourses crossing their spaces. Salmon abound then
In detail, the treaty gives them a "right to harvest fish, at all customary and customary places and lands … in common with all citizens."
New leap in This time ahead: At the beginning of the 21st century, Washington State still has Indian reserves, whose inhabitants complain about the fall of salmon populations.
According to them, the shortage is accelerated because of the underground pipes through which rivers cross the hundreds of paved roads testifying to economic development.
These pipes, which open above watercourses, prevent the salmon from rising up the rivers to reproduce, or from down to the sea, as was shown by a study in 1997.
17 Years of Judicial Combat –
This is the starting point for a long legal battle launched in 2001 by 21 Indian tribes, backed by the US government as guarantor of the federal treaties. Their common opponent: the state of Washington.
The plaintiffs argue that the original treaty text implies that fish stocks are always sufficient to reasonably feed the tribes.
This fight saw the victory of the Amerindians in first instance (2007) and on appeal ( 2016), the justice ordering twice the suppression of the conduits channeling the rivers.
Washington's elected officials failed to choke on each of these setbacks.
Removing all the pipelines, in the name of salmon survival and in the name of respect for an old treaty of the colonial era, will cost the state $ 2 billion, they say.
The hour of the third round, decisive, has now struck the Supreme Court.
In this case mixing history, ecology, federalism, and Native American rights, Justice Anthony Kennedy recused himself because he had already dealt with this issue in the 1980s.
The future of Wild West salmon therefore depends on of the remaining eight judges