Native Village of Eyak v. Blank , No. 09-35881 (9th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Several Alaskan native villages (Villages) claimed they possessed non-exclusive aboriginal hunting and fishing rights in areas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in the Gulf of Alaska. The Secretary of Commerce promulgated regulations limiting access to the halibut and sablefish fisheries. The Villages claimed that the regulations failed to account for the Villages' non-exclusive aboriginal hunting and fishing rights, without Congress's consent in violation of the federal common law and the Indian Non-Intercourse Act. The district court dismissed their complaint. The Supreme Court remanded to the district court for the purpose of determining what aboriginal rights, if any, the Villages had on the OCS. The district court held that the Villages had no nonexclusive right to hunt and fish in the OCS. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) based on the uncontested factual findings of the district court, the court did not err in concluding that the Villages failed to establish an entitlement to non-exclusive aboriginal rights on the OCS; and (2) because the Villages had not established aboriginal rights on the OCS, the Court had no occasion to consider whether there was a conflict with the federal paramountcy doctrine or whether the Secretary's actions violated the Indian Non-Intercourse Act.