Supreme Court Says Lax Kw’Alaams Cannot Commercially Sell Their Fish
Indian Country Today
“The precontact society was not a trading people, except with respect to eulachon grease,” the judgment noted. “[Such] sporadic trade as took place in other fish products was peripheral to the precontact society and did not define what made precontact society what it was.”
Aboriginal rights are not frozen in time, the judgment said. Their subject matter and method of application can evolve. But, the judges said, the Lax Kw’Alaams’ claim to a commercial fishery would create a righth qualitatively and quantitatively different from the precontact trade in eulachon grease, something the courts could not proceed with.
More on this later. Basically, salmon is to Pacific Northwest Indians as American bison was to the Plains Indians. The difference is that instead of eradicating this economic foundation (scorched earth war against the Plains Indians) the US and Canadian Governments stole access to the resource and now attempt to define the terms of their theft as some absurd notion of maintaining continuity with our precontact practices.