UNITED STATES V. WINANS, 198 U. S. 371 (1905)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Winans, 198 U.S. 371 (1905)

United States v. Winans

No. 180

Argued April 3-4, 1905

Decided May 16, 1905

198 U.S. 371


This Court will construe a treaty with Indians as they understood it and as justice and reason demand.

The right of taking fish at all usual and accustomed places in common with the citizens of the Territory of Washington and the right of erecting temporary buildings for curing them, reserved to the Yakima Indians in the Treaty of 1859, was not a grant of right to the Indians, but a reservation by the Indians of rights already possessed and not granted away by them. The rights so reserved imposed a servitude on the entire land relinquished to the United States under the treaty and which, as was intended to be, was continuing against the United States and its grantees, as well as against the state and its grantees.

The United States has power to create rights appropriate to the object for which it holds territory while preparing the way for future states to be carved therefrom and admitted to the Union; securing the right to the Indians to fish is appropriate to such object, and after its admission to the Union, the state cannot disregard the right so secured on the ground of its equal footing with the original states.

Patents granted by the United States for lands in Washington along the Columbia River and by the state for lands under the water thereof and rights given by the state to use fishing wheels are subject to such reasonable regulations as will secure to the Yakima Indians the fishery rights reserved by the Treaty of 1859.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 198 U. S. 377

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