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Native American asks Supreme Court to overthrow conviction after he hunted to feed his family

The Furnace

He argued that an 1868 treaty between the US government and the Crow Tribe vindicates his actions


The Supreme Court will decide whether or not to throw out the conviction a member of the Crow Tribe received for hunting an elk on federal lands in order to feed his family. To back up his case, the defendant cited a 19th century treaty between his tribe and the U.S. government.

What's the story?

In 2014, Clayvin Herrera and three other members of the Crow Tribe were hunting a herd of elk. During the hunt, the elk left the Crow Reservation in Montana and entered land belonging to Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming. It was there that the hunting party killed three elk, which they reportedly then divided among their families.

Game officials in Wyoming charged Herrera with hunting off season without a license. He was ordered to pay $8,000 and had his hunting privileges revoked for three years. Native Americans are permitted to hunt on their own land at any time, but game officials said that these rules did not apply to Herrera since he had left the Crow Reservation before the end of the hunt.

But Herrera argued that 1868's Second Treaty of Fort Laramie should clear him of all charges. Under the treaty, which predates the state of Wyoming, the U.S. government granted the Crow Tribe the right to "hunt on the unoccupied lands of the U.S. so long as game may be found thereon, and as long as peace subsists among the whites and Indians on the borders of the hunting districts." The state argues that this law is no longer valid.

Whether or not the treaty still stands will now decided by the Supreme Court. First oral arguments in the case will be heard on Tuesday.

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