Uneven Ground Case Analysis

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In Chapter 4 of Uneven Ground, Wilkins discusses the United States v. Winans case which regarded tribal rights. It held that the Yakamas tribe had “reserved rights” to hunt and fish because the Winans brothers had been depleting the salmon in the river. Wilkins also writes how the tribes implemented their rights based on their original and indigenous sovereignty. Chief Justice Fuller recognized this and confirmed the tribe’s rights to hunt and fish because of tribal sovereignty (125). In a similar case, Winters v. United States (1908), a man had built a dam that restricted all water flow down the Milk River. The Court ruled that the argument had to be viewed through the eyes of the Indians and that it would be ridiculous for Congress to give…show more content…
This was a case that led to a statement by Justice Swayne in which he declared that “A treaty may supersede a prior act of Congress and an act of Congress may supersede a prior treaty.” (157). However, two months earlier an act had just been passed that terminated all Indian treaty processes. Thus Congress could pass laws that changed treaties, but no more treaties could be made that supersede the law. The tribes could no longer negotiate with the government as they used to, had they been viewed as sovereign (157). Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock (1903) case also proved to be blow for tribal sovereignty. Among the other precedents it set, this case paved the way for the federal government to unilaterally abrogate Indian treaties (158). This meant that Congress could pass a law that made part or all of a treaty void and that clearly violates the idea of tribal sovereignty. The doctrine of implied repeals is discussed in this chapter as well. This term, implied repeals, means that Congress can decide if treaty languages disagrees with or contradicts later statues. Basically, it is the repeal of an earlier treaty (144). Treaties are agreed and signed by two separate nations. By making treaties, the government was acknowledging the tribe’s sovereignty. However by coming up with a way to abrogate or change these treaties to fit their own agenda, they are insinuating that Indian sovereignty doesn’t exist. The doctrine of plenary power has also been used to deny Indians rights or a legal pathway to have their complaints heard

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