Submitted: October 9, 2014.
Appeals from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - St. Paul.
For United States of America (13-3800, 13-3801, 13-3802, 13-3803), Plaintiff - Appellant: Allen M. Brabender, U.S. Department of Justice, Environment & Natural Resources Division, Office of Assistant Attorney General, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC; Thomas Calhoun-Lopez, Assistant U.S. Attorney U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; John David Gunter II, Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Environment & Natural Resources Division, Appellate Section, Washington, DC.
Michael D. Brown, Defendant - Appellee (13-3800), Pro se, Cass Lake, MN.
For Michael D. Brown, Defendant - Appellee (13-3800): Paul C. Engh, Minneapolis, MN; Andrew H. Mohring, Federal Public Defender's Office, Minneapolis, MN.
For Jerry A. Reyes, also known as: Otto Reyes, Defendant - Appellee (13-3801): Paul C. Engh, Minneapolis, MN; Robert D. Richman, Saint Louis Park, MN.
Jerry A. Reyes, also known as: Otto Reyes, Defendant - Appellee (13-3801), Pro se, Cass Lake, MN.
For Marc L. Lyons, Defendant - Appellee (13-3802): Paul C. Engh, Minneapolis, MN.
Marc L. Lyons, Defendant - Appellee (13-3802), Pro se, Bena, MN.
For Frederick W. Tibbetts, also known as: Bud Tibbetts, Defendant - Appellee (13-3803): Paul C. Engh, Minneapolis, MN; Andrew H. Mohring, Federal Public Defender's Office, Minneapolis, MN.
Frederick W. Tibbetts, also known as: Bud Tibbetts, Defendant - Appellee (13-3803), Pro se, Bena, MN.
Before MURPHY, SMITH, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.
MURPHY, Circuit Judge.
Appellees Michael Brown, Jerry Reyes, Marc Lyons, and Frederick Tibbetts were indicted under the Lacey Act which makes it unlawful to " sell . . . any fish . . . taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of . . . any Indian tribal law." 16 U.S.C. § 3372(a)(1). The indictments alleged that appellees had netted fish for commercial purposes within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation in violation of the Leech Lake Conservation Code, then sold the fish. Appellees are Chippewa Indians, and they moved to dismiss the indictments on the ground that their prosecution violates fishing rights reserved under the 1837 Treaty between the United States and the Chippewa. The district court granted the motions to dismiss. The United States appeals, arguing that its application of the Lacey Act did not infringe on appellees' fishing rights. We affirm.
During the early 1800s Chippewa Indians occupied much of present day Minnesota and Wisconsin. Ronald N. Satz, Chippewa Treaty Rights: The Reserved Rights of Wisconsin's Chippewa Indians in Historical Perspective 1 (Carl N. Haywood, ed., 1996). At least three thousand Chippewa resided in seven village centers at locations including Leech Lake. Id. In Minnesota they controlled the land east of the Mississippi River and north of the Crow Wing River. William Watts Folwell, A History of Minnesota 80-81, 88 (Solon J. Buck, ed., 1921).
Hunting, fishing, gathering, and trapping were essential to the survival and ways of life of Indian tribes throughout North America. Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law § 18.01 at 1154 (Nell Jessup Newton ed., 2012). Such activities " were not much less necessary to the existence of the Indians than the atmosphere they breathed." United States v. Winans, 198 U.S. 371, 381, 25 S.Ct. 662, 49 L.Ed. 1089 (1905). Throughout their territory the Chippewa fished, hunted, trapped, gathered wild rice, and tapped maple trees for sugar. Satz, Chippewa Treaty Rights at 1-2. Fishing and hunting were of such importance that a boy's first success was publicly celebrated. Id. at 2. In addition to fishing for subsistence purposes, Chippewa Indians sold their catch to traders,
from whom they also bought fishing nets. ...