For thousands of years, deer, elk, bear, ducks, and other wildlife have been as important to the survival of western Washington Tribes as the harvest of salmon and shellfish. Today, hunting remains an integral part of Indian life.
Subsistence hunting is an important economic activity for tribal members. Consumption of wild game is estimated to be worth an estimated $1,500 to $2,000 per family per year in food resources. Poverty is more than three and one half times higher amongst the tribes than all of Washington’s residents. Tribal unemployment is five times higher and tribal per capita income is less than half that of all other Washington residents. So, wild game is an essential contribution to tribal members’ nutritional needs.
Wildlife Law Enforcement
Tribal hunting is regulated by tribal laws and annual regulations set by each Tribe’s wildlife committee and governing Tribal Council.
Tribal hunting laws have been in place for many years to regulate hunting by tribal members both on and off their reservations.
Tribal hunting laws are jointly enforced by Tribal police departments, Tribal fisheries enforcement officers, and Point No Point Treaty council enforcement officers.
Tim is showing off the head of his elk which he had mounted.
The Point No Point Tribes’ Reserved Treaty Rights
From time immemorial, the Point No Point treaty tribes’ culture, spirituality, economies and social fabric have centered on fishing, hunting and gathering the natural resources of the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas. They acted as stewards of the land and its resources, taking seriously this responsibility. In 1855 the ancestors of today’s Skokomish, Port Gamble S'Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam and Lower Elwha S’Klallam tribes signed the Treaty of Point No Point with United States government, in which they ceded three quarters of a million acres of land and reserved off reservation hunting and fishing rights.
This 6 point Roosevelt Elk was bagged by Tim Seachord (right). It dressed out at 900lbs.
This treaty was not a grant of rights to the Indians by the federal government, but rather a reservation of rights by the Point No Point treaty tribes to continue a traditional way of life. After signing the treaty, the tribes continued to act as stewards of their ceded land, as they do to this day. The reserved treaty rights to hunt, gather and fish bring with them the federal trust responsibility to adequately fund the tribes to co-manage the natural resources within their ceded area.
History of Point No Point Tribes’ Wildlife Management Efforts
Each tribe has established a hunting committee which makes recommendations to their tribal council on amendments to the hunting code and on the content of their annual hunting regulations. Each tribal council retains authority over adoption of tribal hunting laws. The hunting committees meet several times a year, and meet as a whole to share data and discuss tribal wildlife management issues.