Two months after a U.S. Supreme Court decision re-affirmed the Crow Tribe's off-reservation hunting rights, other tribes in the Mountain West are exploring how the precedent could apply to them.
Leaders from the Shoshone-Bannock tribe of Fort Hall, Idaho traveled to Fort Washakie on Friday to discuss the issue with the Eastern Shoshone.
"Our relationship is unique. Not only are we related on a family level, but also we have ties back to the 1868 Fort Bridger Treaty, of which we are both signatories," said Leslie Shakespeare, vice-chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Business Council.
That treaty entitles both tribes to "hunt on the unoccupied lands of the United States so long as game may be found thereon, and so long as peace subsists among the whites and Indians on the borders of the hunting districts."
In Herrera v. Wyoming, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such treaty provisions were not extinguished when Wyoming became a state. But the court did not hand down a clear definition of "unoccupied lands."
"And that's a point of discussion that we had between the tribes [during the meeting,]" Shakespeare said. "What is each of our definition[s] of unoccupied lands? What is the State of Wyoming's? Because when you start to look at the legal analysis that has been done, there's no definitive answer."
Wyoming's 4th District Court, whose ruling was overturned in Herrera v. Wyoming, will take up the issue in a status hearing on Friday, August 9 in Sheridan.