File Photo

File Photo

Snoqualmie Tribe petitions U.S. Supreme Court to review hunting and gathering civil rights case

Tribe leaders believe the court decision violates treaty law and creates a dangerous precedent.

The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, a federally recognized Tribe in King County, filed a petition on March 11 asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider its hunting and gathering civil rights case against Governor Jay Inslee and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Tribe is petitioning to overturn a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that denied Snoqualmie’s treaty status and stripped it of its hunting and gathering treaty rights reserved in the Treaty of Point Elliott, despite the fact the United States has repeatedly confirmed the Tribe as a treaty signatory.

“If this outrageous decision stands, all it will take is one federal judge acting with malice to threaten the rights of any Tribe in America,” said Chairman Robert de los Angeles. “This is one of the most dangerous federal cases involving tribal rights in decades, and every Tribe in the country should fear the idea of giving a federal judge the right to unilaterally nullify any Tribal right, anywhere in America.”

In American jurisprudence, treaties are considered the “supreme law of the land”, and the Executive Branch is responsible for their execution, while Congress alone is solely empowered to abrogate treaty terms. No act of Congress has modified the Treaty of Point Elliott, and the U.S. Department of the Interior has repeatedly acknowledged that Snoqualmie is a treaty signatory with treaty rights.

In late August 2021, the Ninth Circuit court refused to recognize Snoqualmie’s treaty rights by relying on a 1979 decision issued when Snoqualmie was unrecognized and landless.

“Just as fourteen representatives of the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe signed the Treaty of Point Elliott in order to protect their descendants’ rights, culture, and ancestral lands,” said de los Angeles in a written statement, “so too will our generation of Snoqualmie leaders never surrender the fight to protect the human rights of the next seven generations of our Tribe.”

The case originated from a 2019 decision by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, which unilaterally informed Snoqualmie that it had determined—without consulting Snoqualmie or the United States government — that “the Snoqualmie Tribe does not have off-reservation hunting and fishing rights under the Treaty.”

According to the tribe, WDFW and Governor Jay Inslee refused repeated requests for state officials to stop meddling in a federal issue, forcing the Tribe to sue to obtain relief from harassment from state law enforcement officials.

“This was an unnecessary legal fight that Governor Inslee and WDFW volunteered for and then refused to back down from, despite the state having no material interest in the outcome,” said de los Angeles. “It is sickening that Washington State is wasting taxpayer resources and state employee time trying to prevent a Snoqualmie grandmother from gathering huckleberries, or a Snoqualmie veteran from hunting deer to support his family. It is inconsistent with everything our state stands for, and the values we teach our children.”

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

King County experts discuss extreme heat mitigation plan

The plan includes improving infrastructure and communications to prevent future disasters.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterburg (File Photo)
King County Prosecuting Attorney vows to protect reproductive freedom

Dan Satterberg joins over 80 prosecutors from around the country in their pledge.

King County approves emergency grant after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Washington is expecting an influx of people seeking abortions from out of state.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Derby Days. Courtesy of Experience Redmond.
Mark your calendars for Redmond’s annual Derby Days celebration

Attendees should expect two days of action-packed fun from July 8-9.

File photo.
Former Bellevue teacher sentenced in federal court over child pornography

Department of Justice says the man had 1,764 images of child sexual abuse in his possession.

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

File photo.
Bellevue man charged in 2019 assault that left a man dead on a Redmond roadway

After a two-year investigation, Bradley Hibbard was arrested for murder in the second degree.

Most Read