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Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Nooksack 306's RABANG family WIN Treaty Rights Battle in Interest of Justice
Having not been since disenrolled, the Rabangs exercised their Nooksack Treaty fishing rights by harvesting clams at Semiahmoo Spit during the early evening on May 10, 2019. When a law enforcement officer approached them and asked if they had state shellfish licenses, the Rabangs produced their Nooksack enrollment cards instead and explained they were subsistence clamming. They were cited
Last Thursday, the Whatcom County District Court dismissed criminal charges against Michael, Francisco, James, and Lisa Rabang for subsistence clamming outside of Bellingham, Washington last May without a state recreational shellfish license. The Rabangs are part of the extended family of purportedly disenrolled Nooksack Indians commonly known as the Nooksack 306.
The Rabangs argued to the state court that because they were never lawfully disenrolled by the Nooksack Tribe, they still enjoy Treaty rights to fish in usual and accustomed Nooksack fishing places. Under federal law, those Treaty rights include the right to take shellfish without a state license and those Treaty fishing grounds include the Semiahmoo Spit, where the Rabangs were criminally cited by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife last spring.
The District Court dismissed each of the charges “in the interests of justice.”
“My clients have steadfastly maintained that they have never been lawfully disenrolled from the Nooksack Tribe and a state court judge now seems to agree with them,” said Gabriel S. Galanda, the Rabangs’ criminal defense lawyer. “They have always been and will always be Nooksack.”
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