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Treaty rights are certain rights that were reserved by Indian tribes when they signed treaties with the United Statesmarker government. By signing treaties, tribes traded vast amounts of their land and resources in exchange for reserved areas of land (Indian reservations) and things like protection (from attacks on their lands), health care, education, sovereignty and religious freedom, protection of hunting and fishing rights, and sometimes some monies as well. Because Article Six of the United States Constitution declares treaties to be the supreme law of the land, treaties are just as valid today as they were the day they were signed, and treaty rights are still legally binding as well.

It is a common misperception that treaty rights are "special" rights given to native people by the government because of their racial status, but this is not the case. The government does not "give" treaty rights to anyone – native people reserved them when they signed treaties in a government-to-government relationship.

Treaty rights are frequently subject to public debate, particularly hunting and fishing rights. Many Native nations have reserved rights to hunt and fish in their accustomed places, which are often land that was given up at the treaty signing, or "ceded land". This leads to conflict with sports and commercial hunters and fishers, who are competing for the same limited resource in the same place.

Another common source of conflict is management decisions about the land or rivers on which Native people have rights. Things like dams and logging have huge effects on fish and wildlife populations, but Native people are rarely consulted when it comes to the management process of these lands and rivers, even though many tribes still depend on hunting and fishing for subsistence.



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