Metlakatla Indian Community v. Egan
369 U.S. 45 (1962)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Metlakatla Indian Community v. Egan, 369 U.S. 45 (1962)

Metlakatla Indian Community v. Egan

No. 2

Argued December 13-14, 1961

Decided March 5, 1962

369 U.S. 45

Syllabus

By the Act of March 3, 1891, the Annette Islands in Alaska were "set apart as a reservation" for the Metlakatlans and other Indians, "to be held and used by them . . . under such rules and regulations . . . as may be prescribed from time to time by the Secretary of the Interior." Relying not upon that Act, but upon the White Act of June 6, 1924, and § 4 of the Alaska Statehood Act, the Secretary of the Interior promulgated the present regulations whereby appellant, the incorporated Metlakatla Indian Community, was accorded the right to erect and operate salmon traps in waters surrounding the Annette Islands. Appellant sued to enjoin threatened enforcement against it of a statute of the State of Alaska forbidding the use of salmon traps. Its suit was dismissed, and the Supreme Court of Alaska affirmed.

Held:

1. Neither the White Act nor § 4 of the Alaska Statehood Act conferred authority on the Secretary of the Interior to permit Metlakatlans to use salmon traps. Organized Village of Kake v. Egan, post, p. 369 U. S. 60. P. 369 U. S. 54.

2. The authority to issue regulations governing the Metlakatla Indian Reservation, which was granted to the Secretary of the Interior by the 1891 Act, has not been repealed or impaired, and he has power to issue regulations concerning the fishing rights of these Indians on this reservation which would supersede state law; but the present regulations did not purport to be issued under that authority. They purported to be issued under a misconceived duty wrongly read into the Alaska Statehood Act. Pp. 369 U. S. 54-59.

3. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Alaska is vacated, and the case is remanded to that Court, there to be held to give ample opportunity for the Secretary of the Interior, with all reasonable expedition, to determine prior to the 1963 salmon fishing season what, if any, authority he chooses to exercise in the light of this opinion, and the stay heretofore granted is continued in force until the end of the 1962 salmon fishing season. P. 369 U. S. 59.

___ Alaska ___, 362 P.2d 901, judgment vacated and cause remanded.

Page 369 U. S. 46

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