Appeal Of Tribal Sovereignty Case Gets Underway In British Columbia

Sep 6, 2017
Originally published on February 27, 2018 2:19 pm

Members of the Sinixt Indian tribe reside on the reservation of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville in Washington. Last spring, one of them won a landmark court case in Canada reestablishing their tribal rights there.

A two-day hearing on an appeal of the case began Wednesday. 

Last spring, Rick Desautel, a Washington state man with Sinixt roots, won a landmark case which effectively revived his tribe—seven years after he illegally hunted elk in Canada to bring attention to his heritage.

In the original case, the provincial government in Britsih Columbia argued that when members of the Sinixt tribe moved onto the reservation of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville in Washington, they gave up sovereign rights in Canada. It’s the same argument the government is using in its appeal. 

The traditional territory of the Sinixt spans a wide swath of northeast Washington and southern BC. For decades, the tribe was considered “extinct”—language used by the Canadian government after the last surviving Sinixt member in British Columbia passed away in 1956.

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