Quileute Tribe, Hoh Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation, and Skokomish Tribe Respond to Jamestown and Port Gamble Tribes’ Misinformation: WDFW Decided Four Years Ago That Klallams Had No Evidence Allowing Them To Hunt In Other Tribes’ Treaty Areas; Rescinded Secret Deals
Last month, the Quileute Tribe, Hoh Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation, and Skokomish Tribe issued a press release letting the public know that the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is considering entering into unwritten agreements granting expanded hunting areas for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (the “Klallam Tribes”). Under the tacit agreements, WDFW would not enforce laws requiring Klallams to have a state license to hunt in certain Game Management Units on the Olympic Peninsula. WDFW determined in 2015 that the Klallam Tribes had presented no evidence of treaty hunting rights in the GMUs.
WDFW is proceeding with this approach despite its prior findings and despite strong objections by the adversely affected tribes. It is apparently planning to take similar actions in other areas of the state.
In a recent press release, the Jamestown and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribes made several demonstrably false statements.
Deals Were Secret – As Demanded By The S’Klallam. First, the S’Klallam Tribes state that “[t]here never was an attempt by our Tribes to ‘expand’ our hunting area by ‘secret’ agreement with the WDFW.” Records released in response to a public records request show otherwise.
In 2013, WDFW entered into secret written agreements with the S’Klallam Tribes allowing them to hunt in areas in which WDFW had not previously allowed the S’Klallam Tribes to hunt. WDFW rescinded those agreements in 2015 after finally examining the historical evidence. WDFW has not yet disclosed the back-door conversations with Klallams that led it to consider reinstating the illegal deals. But the information we do have shows that these earlier deals were indeed secret.
On October 16, 2013, former WDFW Director Phil Anderson emailed the Chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, responding to the S’Klallam Tribes’ demand that evidence not be required in order to enter into the hunting agreements. Director Anderson emphasized that the requirement to provide evidence (several months after the agreements were executed) was important because “I need a foundation to stand on if I am challenged in some way about the geographic scope of our agreement.” He then reiterated, “Please remember that we were willing to receive the information verbally and you can limit what you give us in writing.”
On December 21, 2013, the Chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe emailed Director Anderson with his concerns that “[w]e had asked that no notes be taken [during the meeting between WDFW and the S’Klallam Tribes in which the Tribes were supposed to present evidence] to keep the conversation out of the Public Information Disclosure situation.”
WDFW Rescinded Agreements Because No Evidence Supported Claimed Hunting Rights. Second, the S’Klallam Tribes claim in their response that “[h]istorical documents record travel and hunting routes from S’Klallam settlements into the Olympic Mountains and throughout the northwestern side of the Olympic Peninsula including the area of modern-day Hoko, Dickey, Sol Duc and Pysht Game Management Units (GMUs).” But the S’Klallam Tribes do not point to one “historical document” supporting this statement, nor can they. They then quote statements from former WDFW Director Anderson supporting the secret 2013 agreements, but they do not disclose that WDFW later rescinded those agreements because no evidence supported them.
Specifically, WDFW’s expert anthropologist concluded in 2015 that “[t]he S’Klallam Report provides no actual evidence for hunting in the Sol Duc and southern Dickey GMU areas[.]” “None of the [S’Klallam] Report’s information provides evidence for an aboriginal S’Klallam hunting ground beyond treaty-ceded lands.” This evidence is needed before a tribe can exercise treaty hunting rights in an area under a Washington State Supreme Court case called State v. Buchanan.
As a result, in 2015 WDFW issued letters to the S’Klallam Tribes stating that “we agree with [our expert anthropologist]’s conclusions, which are consistent with the findings of [two other expert anthropologists,] Drs. Powell and Boxberger, that information in the [S’Klallam] report supporting the traditional hunting use of the Sol Duc and Dickey Game Management Units (GMUs), outside of the [S’Klallam] treaty ceded area, by the Jamestown and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribes is insufficient to justify not enforcing state law in these areas.”
No Basis for Renewing Rescinded Secret Agreements. Because the secret agreements between the S’Klallam Tribes and WDFW were rescinded more than four years ago, WDFW’s shocking new proposal to reinstate those agreements is not an “annual renewal” of the S’Klallam Tribes’ co-management agreement with WDFW, as the S’Klallam Tribes now falsely claim.
Nor is it true that the S’Klallam Tribes’ treaty fishing area extends to these GMUs located in the Quileute Tribe, Hoh Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation’s treaty hunting areas. The S’Klallam Tribes themselves authored the map, shown with this article, of their fishing area, which clearly excludes the Dickey and Sol Duc watersheds:
Below are some additional key findings from WDFW’s expert anthropologist. All of them support WDFW’s conclusion that S’Klallam Tribes have no treaty hunting rights in these areas, making it improper for WDFW to now abandon its enforcement obligations. The Quileute Tribe, Hoh Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation, and Skokomish Tribe invite the public to see the evidence for themselves. The public can read the full reports at https://quileutenation.org/natural-resources/. The public is encouraged to contact one or more of these tribes if they are interested in more information concerning the secret past agreements and WDFW’s stunning new proposal to reinstate them.
RELEVANT EXCERPTS FROM WDFW’S EXPERT REPORTS
“[T]he Olympic Peninsula tribes hunted in the mountains within the watersheds of the rivers in their respective territories, [and] their hunting areas did not overlap. Whenever one tribe detected trespass by another, conflict resulted….
I found clear evidence that the S’Klallam hunted in their aboriginal territory and the Quileute in theirs. However, I found that none of the information [in the S’Klallam Report] provides evidence of S’Klallam aboriginal hunting in those GMU locations.” Thompson, Gail, Review of Information in S’Klallam Tribes’ August 2015 Report on S’Klallam Hunting in the WDFW Sol Duc (607) and Southern Dickey (602) Game Management Units, pages 20, 29 (2015)
“None of the [S’Klallam] Report’s information provides evidence for an aboriginal S’Klallam hunting ground beyond treaty-ceded lands.” Id. at 15.
“The S’Klallam Report provides no actual evidence for hunting in the Sol Duc and southern Dickey GMU areas[.]” Id. at 26.
“Because evidence that the tribe ‘actually used for hunting and occupied’ the claimed area is needed under the Buchanan standard and such evidence is lacking, I conclude and confirm my opinion that there is almost no evidence of S’Klallam aboriginal hunting in the Sol Duc and southern Dickey GMUs.” Id. at 30.
“Ethnographic and Quileute Tribal oral history sources provide abundant evidence of Quileute traditional knowledge and use of the Dickey and Soleduck River drainages…. This is the kind of evidence I would expect to see if the S’Klallam were hunting in the two GMU portions, but which is lacking in the materials I reviewed.” Thompson, Gail, Investigation of Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Claim of Traditional Hunting in Portions of the WDFW Dickey (602) and Sol Duc (607) Game Management Units 19 (2015).
“Information on Quileute traditional knowledge and use of the Dickey and Soleduck watersheds contrasts sharply with that available for the S’Klallam and reflects extensive Quileute use, including hunting, of the two GMU portions.” Id. at 20.
“Based on the information provided in the report sections above, evidence for S’Klallam traditional hunting south of the Hoko River drainage divide in the Dickey GMU (602) about treaty time is lacking in the materials reviewed. The same is true for S’Klallam hunting in the northern part of the Sol Duc GMU (607).” Id. at 30.