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United States v. Adair

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
723 F.2d 1394 (9th Cir. 1983)


The Klamath Marsh and Williamson River are located in south-central Oregon. Both rivers were important water sources to the Klamath Indians, who lived in the area for over a thousand years. In 1864, the Klamath Indians signed a treaty relinquishing most of their land in exchange for a reservation that included the Klamath Marsh and part of the Williamson River watershed. Later, through a series of acts, much of the Klamath reservation was sold off, with the retained land placed in trust for the Klamath Tribe. The United States later purchased much of the trust land for wildlife sanctuaries and national forests. In 1975, the United States (plaintiff) sued for a declaration of the water rights in the former Klamath Reservation area. The government named as defendants individual owners of land in the area, including Adair (defendant). The United States argued that the Klamath Indians retained reserved water rights for hunting and fishing under the 1864 treaty, but the landowners argued that the Indians had water rights under the treaty only for agricultural purposes. The district court agreed with the United States, holding that the Klamath Indians had an implied reservation of water rights for hunting and fishing.

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