Seattle tribal lawyer Ryan Dreveskracht lambasted a series of tribal bison-related bills introduced in the Montana state legislature as "another attack on Buffalo Country," according to an interview with Indian Country Today Media Network. That outlet also published his paper, "Montana’s Bison Bills: Another Attack On Buffalo Country."
Together the four pieces of tribal bison-related legislation, all introduced by Republicans, constituted “another attack on Buffalo Country,” said Indian law expert Ryan D. Dreveskracht in a recent interview with Indian Country Today Media Network. . . .
“Undoubtedly, the tribes that originally inhabited these lands had the right to manage, maintain, and hunt bison,” Dreveskracht said. “Congress has not clearly and unambiguously divested that right. The tribes’ exclusive authority to regulate on-reservation wildlife is thus derived [from] the retained inherent sovereignty over its tribal territory.”
He added that legally Montana is obligated to “protect [the tribes’] source of food and commerce” throughout the state, meaning both within Montana Indian country and beyond, on and off the reservation. Although the bills were touted as necessary “to protect domestic livestock from contracting brucellosis [for] the sake of public safety” in the name of conservation, Dreveskracht said, they would have in effect destroyed an entire indigenous culture and economy, nullifying rights that are engrained in treaty. These treaties, referred to in the U.S. Constitution as “the supreme Law of the Land, ” serve to “exempt the Indians’ preserved rights from like state regulation,” Dreveskracht said.
Further, he added, they impose an affirmative obligation on the state to assure that reserved resource is maintained in a manner that gives meaning to the tribes’ reserved right.
Ryan Dreveskracht is an Associate at Galanda Broadman, PLLC. His practice focuses on representing businesses and tribal governments in public affairs, energy, gaming, taxation, and general economic development. He can be reached at 206.909.3842 or ryan @galandabroadman.com.