California tribal members gathered to protest proposed MLPA closures on June 18, and they will raise their concerns at the California Fish & Game Commission (CFGC) meeting in Stockton on June 29-30. But has the CFGC consulted with California tribes regarding proposed restrictions on coastal gathering proposed under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative? Make no mistake, even though California tribes' treaties weren't ratified, the state of California still must consult with those tribes regarding state laws and policies that will detrimentally impact the tribal religious, cultural and subsistence practices of gathering food from the sea.
Government-to-government consultation is a fundamental aspect and necessary component of tribal sovereignty that has never been extinguished – explicitly or implicitly – by the federal government. California tribes should demand consultation from CFGC regarding the proposed coastal gathering restrictions, to the extent the state has not yet provided that opportunity to affected tribes.
Gabriel "Gabe" Galanda is a partner at Galanda Broadman PLLC, of Seattle, an American Indian majority-owned law firm. He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California. He can be reached at 206.691.3631 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or via galandabroadman.com.