FHBC Chairman Nathan Small speaks to tribal members.
By LACEY WHELAN
FORT HALL — The Spring Creek Drum Group started the Tribal Member Treaty Rights seminar at the Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel April 6 with an honor song and then a victory song.
Fort Hall Business council member Lee Juan Tyler gave a prayer. Claudeo Broncho, Fish and Wildlife Policy Representative, was the moderator and made sure everyone stayed on schedule.
Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Nathan Small gave the keynote address. He said tribal members right to hunt is not an individual right it’s a Tribes right. He explained the purpose of the seminar and knows the Tribes Treaty Rights are in jeopardy. The Herrera case is very concerning to him. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Wyoming, then it applies to us too. He is grateful for the treaties being signed so we can get the rights we do today, and if it weren’t for our ancestors we wouldn’t be here today. Small said to be thankful for what you take and make sure you don’t take too much.
Fort Hall Business Council member Lee Juan Tyler also took a few moments to express his thoughts and concerns on hunting rights. He knows that we’ve lost a lot of things with hunting. He recalls when we used to hunt and we came back, we had to pray for the animals that were killed to feed our people.
Tribal elder and Archives Manager for Language & Culture department, Velda Racehorse was the moderator for the Traditional Roles panel discussion and first started off by giving a bio for all the elders who were part of the seminar.
Fred Auck was the first to present and he started off talking in Shoshone. He explained how the treaty came about and how we all are supposed to treat the animals and also how the animals communicate with us as Indian people. “We’ve got to respect them.” He reminds all to have total respect for life, it’s not a sport out there, it’s not the horns you eat, it’s how well you respect that animal, or your family. It’s about surviving. He feels that there are too many rules on why we hunt or what we hunt. He believes the children now are not being taught in the proper manner. He wants more communication to be done with the hunter and the animal, and to have more prayer done before you go up to the mountain. “Take care of your belongings, and be a caring human being,” he continued. He advised the older hunters to take the little ones with them when they go hunting, and take them to the springs and different areas to be in touch with the earth for their whole life. He reminds to use everything on an animal, and to make beautiful things and say it to the animals when you take their life. He wants all to be understanding of the Treaty, and to interpret it the right way.
Traditional Roles panelists from left, Fred Auck, Clyde Duke Dixey, Louise Dixey and Alene Menta.
Tribal Elder Clyde Duke Dixey was next to present and he first greeted everyone in Shoshone. He explained the importance of the rock chucks and how he hunts them and cooks for his family. The best way to kill the rock chuck is to shoot them in the chest. They wont die any other way, and there are other ways to get them, you can also set traps. He explained how he cooks them, and says you can only get rock chucks during the summertime. Our tribal people also used to eat rabbits. You can eat rabbits all year round, they are a little bit harder to catch but have benefits. He showed his personal collection of the porcupine hair he has collected during the time when he was feeding his horses. He explained the importance of eagle feathers and showed his own eagle feathers he has collected over the years. Dixey showed his eagle whistle his brother made for him when he used to Sundance. He showed many of his eagle feather fans that he used during ceremonies, and when he dances. He talked about how his father used to collect his eagle feathers and how important it is not to kill these birds of prey. He further mentions how important it is to work with the animals. He is willing to help those who don’t have any guidance or know what to do. He closed his part of the panel discussion blowing his eagle whistle.
Louise Dixey, Language and Culture Resource Director, presented on gathering of roots and berries. She greeted everyone in Bannock and also mentioned who her parents are. She talked about how important it is to harvest roots and berries. She explained how they do certain classes and activities in the wintertime and what has to be done in the spring and summer. Certain things must be in order for the plants to grow or comeback in season each year. Certain dances are done in order to have food or plants or even weather — everything is done correctly and in the right way. Many different people were pushed here from all different areas, and that we are fortunate to be able to go back to certain homelands where we all came from. She reminds all that everything has a purpose, and for all to be aware of that. In closing she said the Language and Culture department has a full listing of all the activities that are offered and all are welcome to attend.
Alene Menta was next and said she learned a lot from an old man who tried to raise her and her siblings. When she was 7 or 8 she was taught the spiritual side of hunting, while she talked about him, she spoke in Shoshone of her experience. She explained how the old man used to remind them of the things they were supposed to do. He taught them about gathering the peppermint and leaving the root for the plant to come back the next year. Her mother also taught her about the woman’s place and to never get in front of them when it comes to hunting. Her mother taught her to do the light work. Gathering the roots, berries and also the eggs from ducks in the spring. She said the importance of not touching the eggs because the mother duck can smell the human smell. She remembered her first time she had to go hunting with her husband. She remembered her teachings of the old man who told her to remember to pray before you go hunt. He showed her how to cut the hide off the animal. He taught her how to do it properly so when someone had to prepare the hide so they didn’t have many holes. When her husband had to leave to work on construction she had to fix the hide by herself. She worked hard on fixing her elk hide. She was taught many other ways of how to cut the meat and also make jerky. She felt a sense of accomplishment when she was able to properly fix an elk hide, when she thought is was preparing a deer hide. She told a story about her fight with a salmon that she caught with her bare hands, and had to wrestle it to the ground and ended up muddy with a big fish — she didn’t want that fish to get away. She also recalled her first time spearing salmon and was scared but was able to get one with a strong fight. Menta said she can tell when someone is lying about certain things, because her spirituality would always tell her when someone is being untrue, this comes into play when it comes to the treaty rights. She thinks us as native people are losing a lot things. She attempts to teach all about things she was taught and even though she has been taught a lot, she reminds all to be thankful to the Creator. She ended with a story of how our people are taught not to play with food, and to respect the animals. The conclusion was a slideshow story of the salmon presented in Shoshone and English, by Fredrick Auck.
Chad Colter, Director of Fish and Wildlife department, presented a slideshow of the management of the fish and wildlife. He first spoke about his time in his current position and tried to think about what things he wanted to point out the most important things in the treaty rights including the concept of the things he was taught as a child by his grandmother about eating what you kill. He reminds the Tribes hunting rights are not an individual right, it’s a Tribal right. He went through the history of the signing of the Fort Bridger Treaty. He said we need to create resilience for the changes that we are going to see over the next few 100 years. He wants many to be aware of the negative things, and doesn’t want to be the only one who cares about the negative effects. He reminds all to remember to take only what you need, and to remember where you came from. These are from the Deniwape, and hopes we can protect and preserve the rights and interests of the Tribes. He showed several slides of maps, and talks of the history of western expansion. He showed timelines of the trapper era, the Oregon Trail, when the Fort Bridger treaty was signed and ratified, and when tribal members became citizen of the United States. He further talked about the issues that stood against the Shoshone Bannock people and the U.S. government. He tells of the dissatisfaction of the signing of treaties with the government and how they didn’t want to sign any more treaties without executive order. He reminds all of the importance of Article IV of the Treaty. Colter talked about the effects on the resource issues, and says the Pocatello area has the worst water quality that he knows of. He is also concerned over the Herrera case, and briefly touched on the subject. He ended his presentation with upcoming projects the department is working on.
During lunch Nolan Brown, researcher for Language and Culture department showed a video about the Fort Bridger Treaty, narrated by tribal elder Lionel Boyer. Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy students were present and they talked about how they wanted to become leaders and lawyers to help their people.
Daniel Stone, Fish and Wildlife Policy Analyst, was next to present with a Tribal Self-Regulation & Case law overview and game code. He started off with the meaning of case law. He said not everything is 100% black and white, it usually ends up being a fight over what it means, they take it to court, the court issues a ruling on that specific piece of law and then it becomes a body of a law or a precedent on a particular issue. When he says a precedent, he means it’s a guiding principle that’s never set in stone and it’s not 100% guiding all the time, but it does set the general direction of a trend, overtime, and when they talk about the Racehorse case, they will start to see the progression of how these precedents will change or modify overtime.
He continued about the importance of knowing your rights as a tribal member with hunting and fishing, along with the importance of knowing your boundaries as well. He said the Herrera case is a huge issue, and a lot of curiosity surrounds it. We all know the same information on it, and said we just have to wait on the decision.
Stone provided a definition of to hunt and then goes on to talk about the case of State vs. Tinno (1972). There were many elders who were a part of the case, who had to interpret what it meant to hunt. The meaning was that to hunt is the right to get what they need to survive, the meanings and laws of unoccupied lands. He advised to know where you are, especially when there is a new no trespassing law, they don’t even have to post any signs saying you are trespassing anymore. He advises to invest in the latest GPS software, to keep everyone out of trouble. He reminds all to be aware of regulations for Tribal and federal. He closed with saying tribal treaty rights are always being attacked and challenged — tribal members need to be able to exercise rights and also to be able to base it back to tribal culture.
Tom Wadsworth, Fish and wildlife Game Warden, was the final presenter speaking on law enforcement and contemporary issues. He did a slideshow presentation and talked about the responsibilities of his department, starting with treaty protection and patrol on and off the reservation, along with the enforcement. He said he chose this position because he is a tribal member and also to protect treaty rights and the rights that go along with it. He explains what his department is responsible for, and how they maintain the authority and jurisdiction, and how being a self regulated tribe with or own court system, and our own laws.
Wadsworth explained any case that comes in, they make sure it goes into Tribal Courts and not to any other courts if they can help it. The patrol areas are very large, the reservation alone is 544,000 acres and most of it is back country. They even go into Washington and Oregon throughout the season. They also cover Montana, Nevada, and Utah. There are only seven officers and it’s at times difficult to cover all the ground. He advises it’s not only their department’s responsibility, it is also the tribal memberships responsibility and if any violations are happening they need to be reported to the Fish and Game department. They also help on a lot of the cultural gatherings throughout the season. The Tribes Game Code was established in 1975, then in 1990 a liquidated bond and forfeiture schedule was created. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Law and Order Code was formed. Yearly regulations are big game, trapping, permit waterfowl hunting for members and non-members, salmon permit fishing (non member) and also permit pheasant hunting (non-member). Regarding Article IV — tribal self-regulation under article IV of the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868, he reminds all to remember it is the tribal member’s responsibility to know your boundaries, and know your coordinates of where you are, to make sure not to jeopardize the tribal rights of the Shoshone Bannock Tribes. Wadsworth said “We are all representatives of the Tribes and to make sure you are all conducting yourselves in a good way, and if trouble comes up to give them a call.”
He advised to know your regulations as a tribal member, it’s more than going out, seeing a animal and pulling the trigger, it’s about knowing your boundaries and also making sure you are in the right. The Fish and Game Commission pass the regulations yearly and they have a purpose and authority. He doesn’t want anyone getting into trouble, so if any question at all to make sure and ask. Wadsworth reminds to only take what you need and to not hunt for trophy meat, to make sure and get other animals like cows or spikes and use their meats to fill your freezer. Remember to give some meat to elders, they need to be taken care of as well, they used to take care of us, so we need to take care of them. He briefly discussed the Herrea case, which is in litigation with the Supreme Court. He understands the times we are in right now, that even though it’s not our tribe in court it will effect us all. It is concerning to him and should be to the tribal membership. Wadsworth explained how social media is affecting people negatively when it comes to hunting. He warns people to make sure to not ruin it for everyone by posting negative things when it comes to hunting.
At the end of his presentation, Wadsworth had a slideshow quiz, and also showed photos of a non-tribal member who was caught poaching on the reservation, was prosecuted in Tribal Court. He showed photos of the items confiscated, and was pleased they were able to catch him.
The seminar finished with comments and questions from attendees and final raffle drawings were done. Participants were given an updated “Take only what you need” tribal member handbook for reserved hunting rights of the Shoshone Bannock Tribes.