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Court rejects Tuscarora man's fishing rights claim

Members of the Tuscarora Nation don't have off-reservation fishing rights on ancestral lands, the New York Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.

Neil Patterson Jr. was cited for failing put his name and address on his fishing gear in violation of state regulations. But he said he was protected by the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua, which allows Iroquois tribal members "free use and enjoyment" of ancestral lands.

In a unanimous 7-0 decision [PDF], the court disagreed. The court said Tuscarora members lost their rights to the land in question because it was sold by the Seneca Nation.

"In short, the Tuscarora Nation's fishing rights on the land in question were wholly contingent on continued ownership of the land by the Seneca," Judge Albert Rosenblatt wrote for the majority. "When the Seneca divested themselves of their interest in the land by the Treaty of Big Tree in 1797, the Tuscarora right to free use and enjoyment ended."

Get the Story:
Tuscarora man loses fight over fishing rights (The Buffalo News 6/15)
Court: Tuscaroras lose fight over fishing rights in N.Y. (Gannett News Service 6/15)
Tuscarora Indian loses court fight over fishing fine (AP 6/14)

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New York court hears Native fishing rights case (04/29)
Native man fights citation for fishing without license (4/27)