Tulee v. Washington

315 U.S. 681 (1942)

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Tulee v. Washington

United States Supreme Court
315 U.S. 681 (1942)

Facts

In 1855 the Yakima tribe of Indians (the Yakima) entered into a treaty with the United States by which it reserved the right to fish in the usual and accustomed places, which included fishing spaces outside the reservation. [Ed’s note: Yakima Nation is now officially named the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation.] Yakima records related to the treaty confirmed the desire of the tribe to preserve access to customary fishing spaces. Sampson Tulee (defendant) was a member of the Yakima and was convicted of fishing without a license outside the reservation. Tulee appealed his conviction, arguing that the place where he was fishing was a usual and accustomed fishing place outside the Yakima reservation and, pursuant to the 1855 treaty, he had an unrestricted right to fish there that could not be subject to a state licensing requirement. The state of Washington (plaintiff) argued that its broad authority to regulate fishing to promote conservation outside the reservation justified the licensing requirement and that this requirement did not discriminate against the Yakima but was instead applicable to all people equally. The licensing fees were one method used to support the state’s conservation program and applied to all license applicants. The Washington Supreme Court affirmed Tulee’s conviction, and Tulee appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Black, J.)

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