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Cherokee Nation and Treaty-based claims regarding lands, hunting and fishing rights

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Treaty-Based Claims Regarding Lands or Hunting and Fishing Rights

The treaties signed between nations, and the people indigenous to their lands were made based on the claims and rights regarding hunting and fishing grounds. Hunting and fishing activities were among the most treasured activities among the Cherokee communities. Treaties were signed between the U.S and the Cherokee nation in the years 1835, 1838 and 1866. In January 2006, the Cherokee nation enacted a code referred to as Cherokee Nation Hunting and Fishing Code for the management of fishing and hunting within the treaty territory. Treaties regarding hunting and fishing rights were mostly signed in cases whereby the people indigenous to the lands held land with high regard. Communities, which depended on the land as a source of food, shelter and livelihood, were observed to consider land a precious commodity and hence it was of great sentimental value.

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The treaty signed between the Cherokee nation and the U.S defined the territory under which the Cherokee communities would hunt and fish without purchase of licenses provided in Oklahoma. Within Northern America, the governments of the U.S and Canada were observed to sign many treaties with many Indian tribes during the settlement of the Europeans in America. Some of these treaties involved payments in the form of large sums of money to the Indians, and in return they gave away the land and other assets in their possession. Indigenous people organized political movements in a bid to reestablish themselves and their autonomy. These communities pushed for the return of the lands taken away from them. The Chippewa Indians in America were also seen to fight for their rights to hunt and fish. This contradicted the governments policy to eliminate all forms of hunting and fishing outside the reservations set aside for them. Consequently, the Indians in Wisconsin were granted the reservation treaty rights to practice hunting and fishing as long as their activities did not threaten the wildlife (Wildenthal 11).

The indigenous people of the Cherokee nation are perceived to have special natural relationship with nature. This special relationship of the indigenous people with the land and its life forms should be maintained as this relationship goes way back dating thousands of years. Since the Indians are indigenous to the land, such bodies as the National Resources Transfer Agreement, which formed a part of the Constitution Act in the year 1930, gave the Indian people the right to hunt, gather and access all the Crown lands at all seasons of the year. In Canada, the treaty and Aboriginal rights to hunting and fishing were included in the constitution. In as much as these hunting and fishing rights were accorded to the indigenous communities, it was the responsibility of the government to ensure conservation and safety of the wildlife and the natural resources. The treaty guaranteed that people took responsibility to ensure that their actions of hunting, gathering and fishing do not deplete the natural wildlife. Hence, restrictions were put in place to ensure the survival of natural and wild populations. These restrictions apply to the Aboriginal users and the licensed hunters of wildlife (Utter 19).

The exercise of hunting and fishing for food was the only way these indigenous Cherokee communities managed to sustain themselves. The staple food for indigenous communities like the Indians was mostly meat in the form of wild animals and fish. The only skills they possessed were those of hunting game and gathering. Laws and acts of parliament were put in place in the United States to help curb poaching. Poaching is an offense punishable by imprisonment of the violators. Thus, as a result, individuals who are non-Indians were allowed to accompany Indians in their hunting and fishing practices but they cannot engage in the activity of hunting. In the eyes of the law it is considered to be poaching. However, the civilians can help in the retrieval of the game and fish, considering that they are accompanied by an Indian (Norton, Sheriff and David W. Blight 239).

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In a bid to promote hunting and gathering by indigenous communities, the government in terms of treaties signed and constitutional rights of the indigenous people allows access of the natural resources through a number of strategies. One strategy used is whereby the Indians in the United States do not need licenses to have access to the game and game reserves. Issuance of licenses is a tedious process involving a lot of bureaucracy. Another factor to put in consideration is the fact that the majority of the indigenous communities are illiterate. Understanding the legalities involved in securing a license poses a great challenge. The government promoted hunting practices by the indigenous communities through allowing them to hunt all year round. This resulted in a constant supply of food in the Cherokee nation throughout the year. The government did not restrict the amount of game an indigenous hunter should carry. This is because these communities lived together in large groups with only a few dedicated hunters. Therefore, a sizeable amount of food to sustain these communities was guaranteed. Thus, the Cherokees in the United States had the right to hunt and gather food in almost all sectors of wildlife including wildlife management areas. This increased food supply to these communities resulting in the continued existence of these communities during these changing times, whereby industrialization and modernization are highly prevalent. Private and free lands were open to allow for hunting and gathering by indigenous communities (Wishart 173).

Fishing was also considered a source of food for the indigenous communities and tribes. To promote fishing by such communities and tribes as the Indians, the government allowed fishing without the use of permits and licenses. Licenses and permits are applicable only to civilians in the United States. Also these tribes were not restricted to fishing waters and fishing seasons. They could fish throughout the year in any waters they pleased. This ensured their survival as fishing ensured a constant supply of food. During engagement in fishing practices, there were no restrictions put in place to control the gear used in the fishing practice. This ensured a constant food supply, as these anglers were not required to learn new fishing methods. Load slips were not required from the anglers in transportation of the fish from the catching points to their destination. Issuance of load slips required contact with the civilized world of which the indigenous communities lacked. They led segregated lives lacking any form of modernization, hence making contact with the civilized world posed a great challenge (Fixico 20).

In conclusion, the treaties involving land, hunting and fishing rights have been of huge support in ensuring the survival of indigenous tribes and communities. The lifestyle and cultural practices of these indigenous tribes and communities help us get closer to life because understanding their way of life helps us understand ourselves. These indigenous communities and tribes have a sentimental value in the society. This is due to the reason that the way of life of these tribes and communities helps promote the economy through tourism. Though the government ensures the survival and existence of these indigenous communities, measures have to be put in place as to control and conserve our wildlife and environment. Without these land, hunting and fishing treaties it is impossible to ensure survival of the indigenous tribes and communities.

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