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Rights Protection Implementation (RPI)

The Branch of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Recreation's Rights Protection Implementation program supports Tribes with the conservation and management of their fish and wildlife resources.

The Rights Protection Implementation (RPI) program supports the implementation of federal court orders that resulted from decisions in complex, off-reservation treaty rights U.S. Supreme Court litigation. These cases were based on large land cession treaties in which the signatory tribes conveyed land to the United States and reserved the right to hunt, fish, and gather within the territory ceded. These rights apply beyond particular reservation boundaries and are shared among multiple Tribes. Therefore, they have intertribal co-management implications as well as implications for management with other jurisdictions. The U.S. has generally been a party to or a supporter of the Tribes’ claims.

Students participating in 2018 Tribal Salmon Camp by river

Middle school students participated in the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission's 2018 Tribal Salmon Camp, hosted by the Yakama Nation.

The goal of this program is to ensure compliance with federal court orders by implementing effective Tribal self-regulatory and co-management systems.

Contract agreements are designed to assure proper regulation and management of off-reservation fish, wildlife, shellfish, and plant-gathering activities, provide conservation enforcement, and perform the necessary assessment and habitat-protection activities that help ensure abundant and healthy populations of ceded territory resources.

Black bear close up in the forest

A large male black bear observed during a 2019 black bear detection study conducted by the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, member tribe of the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA).

In particular, there are 49 Tribes whose off-reservation hunting, fishing and gathering rights in the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes regions are supported by this program. Five umbrella intertribal organizations assist the Tribes in implementing relevant court orders and carrying out co-management responsibilities. The court decisions and orders implemented through this program are U.S. v. Washington, U.S. v. Michigan, Lac Courte Oreilles v. Voigt, U.S. v. Oregon, Minnesota v. Mille Lacs and Grand Portage v. Minnesota. In addition, this program supports implementation of the U.S./Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty.

The following five umbrella intertribal organizations assist Tribes in implementing relevant court orders and carrying out co-management responsibilities:

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