531 F.2d 408 (9th Cir. 1976), 72--3199, Quechan Tribe of Indians v. Rowe

Docket Nº:72--3199.
Citation:531 F.2d 408
Party Name:The QUECHAN TRIBE OF INDIANS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Raymond ROWE, Sheriff of Imperial County, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:February 02, 1976
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 408

531 F.2d 408 (9th Cir. 1976)

The QUECHAN TRIBE OF INDIANS, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Raymond ROWE, Sheriff of Imperial County, et al.,


No. 72--3199.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

February 2, 1976

Page 409

James H. Harmon, County Counsel (argued), El Centro, Cal., for defendants-appellants.

Ronald A. Albu (argued), of Cal. Indian Legal Services, Escondido, Cal., for plaintiff-appellee.

Lawrence E. Shearer, Atty. (argued), Land & Natural Resources Div., U.S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for amicus U.S.


Before CHAMBERS and WALLACE, Circuit Judges, and EAST, [*] District Judge.

CHAMBERS, Circuit Judge:

The Quechan Tribe of Indians, which resides on and governs the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation located along the Colorado River, 1 was organized under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, 48 Stat. 984, 25 U.S.C. §§ 461--479. The Secretary of the Interior approved the Constitution and Bylaws of the Quechan Tribe in 1936.

Article XI of those Bylaws authorizes the adoption of tribal ordinances 'for the control of hunting and fishing on the reservation . . .' To that end the tribe has enacted three ordinances. Ordinance number QT--4 prohibits the use of rifles on the reservation and requires non-members of

Page 410

the tribe to obtain tribal permits before pursuing game on the reservation. Non-members are also required to observe the game laws of the State of California while on the reservation. Ordinance 5--60 declares that any non-Indian hunting or fishing on the reservation without a tribal permit is guilty of trespass and subject to arrest by a tribal officer, who is to take the trespasser before the tribal court or to require him to sign a citation agreeing to appear before the court. Upon conviction the tribal court must assess damages against the trespasser and fine him no less than five dollars but not more than fifty dollars. Ordinance 8--6--64 defines trespass in much the same manner as Ordinance 5--60 but provides that trespassers are to be referred to federal officials for prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 1165.

During the tribe's dove season in September of 1971, Alfred Buker, chief game warden of the Quechan Tribe and an officer of the Bureau of Indian Affairs charged with enforcement of § 1165, encountered three non-Indian youths believed to be violating the three ordinances as well as § 1165. 2 Buker did not arrest the youths, but he did confiscate their weapons, explaining that they could reclaim them at a later date at the tribal headquarters. The youths reported the incident to the Imperial County sheriff's office, whose officers arrested Buker for grand theft of the weapons. Buker was released after two hours and the charges against him were dismissed.

The Quechan Tribe filed this action against the arresting officers seeking declaratory and injunctive relief on the ground that the threat or future arrests prohibited the tribe from enforcing its tribal game ordinances. The district court entered summary judgment for the tribe, declaring that it has the right to control, regulate and license hunting and fishing on the reservation. The court also enjoined the defendants 'from . . . arresting . . . or otherwise interfering with identified Tribal Game Wardens or with Deputy Special Officers of the Department of the Interior acting in discharge of their duties to enforce federal laws and regulations and ordinances of Plaintiff Tribe regulating hunting, trapping and fishing within the...

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