Wenatchi Band of Colville Tribes Secure Fishing Rights At Icicle Creek, Leavenworth Hatchery
NESPELEM, WA - A federal district court has ruled that the Wenatchi Band of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation has the right to fish at the Wenatshapam fishery, which includes Icicle Creek and the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery.
Oregon Federal District Judge Garr King ruled Tuesday that the Wenatchi constituent band of the Colvilles has equal fishing rights with the Yakama tribal members. The Yakama tribe had opposed the Colville Wenatchi's right to fish in these waters.
"We are very pleased with Judge King's decision on this historic fishing rights issue," Jeanne Jerred, Chairman of the Colville Tribes said on Thursday. "We knew without a doubt that the Wenatchi band of the Colvilles had never lost these rights, and the Court's decision makes this clear."
The court held that the Wenatshapam is a usual and accustomed fishery of the Wenatchi as well as the Yakama, giving both equal fishing rights. The Yakamas have attempted to deny the Wenatchi fishing rights in the area for decades; the matter was finally brought to federal court in 2003, after the Colville Wenatchi began fishing at Icicle Creek.
"Judge King's decision should bring this longstanding dispute to an end," Jerred said. "And end an extremely contentious issue."
Judge King held that the Wenatchi's 1894 agreement with the US government puts them on the same legal footing as the Yakama's 1855 treaty, conferring the same federal rights to fish at Icicle Creek.
Source: The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation