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United States v. Winans

Significance, Court Sides With The Yakimas


United States


A commercial fishing company

Appellant's Claim

That the fishing company, by putting in place a device known as a fishing wheel and by other forceful means, had deprived the Yakima Indian tribe of its rights to fish in its traditional spot on the Columbia River as per a treaty signed with the United States government during the nineteenth century.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

Henry M. Hoyt, U.S. Solicitor General

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Charles H. Carey

Justices for the Court

David Josiah Brewer, Henry Billings Brown, William Rufus Day, Melville Weston Fuller, John Marshall Harlan I, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Joseph McKenna (writing for the Court), Rufus Wheeler Peckham

Justices Dissenting

Edward Douglass White


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

15 May 1906


That the treaty takes precedent over state law, that the fishing wheel did displace the Native Americans from their rightful fishing spot. Remanded to the circuit court to determine the method of reconciling Native Americans' rights to fish in the area in question with the respondents' state-granted right to operate a fishing wheel.

Related Cases

  • Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. Thompson, WL 797196 (7th Cir. [Wis.] 1998).

Further Readings

  • Moquin, Wayne, with Charles Van Doren. Great Documents in American Indian History. Praeger Publishers, 1973.
  • Washington Law Review, November 1975, p. 61.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917