In re CSRBA (Case No. 49576), United States of America and Coeur d'Alene Tribe

448 P.3d 322 (2019)

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In re CSRBA (Case No. 49576), United States of America and Coeur d'Alene Tribe

Idaho Supreme Court
448 P.3d 322 (2019)

  • Written by Rose VanHofwegen, JD

Facts

The Coeur d’Alene Tribe (coplaintiff) originally inhabited three million acres including Lake Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe River. The tribe depended on waterways for food, transportation, and recreation. During westward expansion, the United States (coplaintiff) created a reservation in exchange for cession of the rest of the tribe’s aboriginal lands. In 1873, President Grant signed an order setting boundaries, but Congress did not ratify it immediately due to growing public interest in part of the lands. Ultimately the tribe ceded the northern two-thirds of the lake, keeping the lower third and St. Joe River. Congress ratified the boundaries in 1891. Over a century later, the United States filed claims to recognize water rights for the reservation, and the tribe joined the litigation. The tribe’s water expert opined that maintaining habitat off-reservation was necessary to sustain fish populations, because the species the tribe fished migrated up to 100 miles to spawn. The trial court allowed reserved water rights for agriculture, fishing and hunting, domestic purposes, and instream flows within the reservation, but not instream flows off-reservation or to maintain the level of the lake. Idaho appealed as to instream flows within the reservation on land not owned by the tribe or its members. The U.S. and the tribe appealed as to instream flow rights on nontribal land off-reservation.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stegner, J.)

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