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Anderson v. Evans

371 F.3d 475 (2004)

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Anderson v. Evans

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

371 F.3d 475 (2004)

Facts

In 1855, the Makah Tribe (defendant) entered a treaty with the United States government (defendant) under which the tribe ceded most of its land but retained the right to engage in whaling on its accustomed grounds off the Washington coast. In the 1920s, the tribe abandoned its traditional whaling practices. Several decades later, Makah tribal leaders became interested in a revival of cultural traditions, including whaling. However, in the interim, the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) imposed strict limitations on whaling as part of the broader goal of ensuring sustainable marine-mammal populations. The reach of the MMPA extended 200 nautical miles from the boundary of coastal states. Nevertheless, the tribe submitted a plan for renewed whaling, which the government approved. Various citizens and animal-conservation groups (the conservationists) (plaintiffs) brought suit in federal district court, arguing in part that the tribe was acting in violation of the MMPA. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the government and the tribe, holding that the rights established by the 1855 treaty took precedence over the MMPA. The conservationists appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gould, J.)

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