Merkley, Wyden Announce Bill to Nullify Fraudulent Tribal Treaty Passes Senate

Merkley, Wyden Announce Bill to Nullify Fraudulent Tribal Treaty Passes Senate

The fraudulent treaty stripped tribal members of rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that the 1865 Treaty Nullification Act, to formally and finally nullify a fraudulent treaty with the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, has passed the U.S. Senate. The next step is to go to the U.S. House of Representatives, where Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR 2) supports the legislation.

The bill would nullify a fraudulent treaty and clearly validate an 1855 treaty that establishes the tribes’ reservation and preserves certain hunting, gathering and fishing rights.

“Finally, we are taking significant steps to right this tremendous wrong,” Merkley said. “Documentation shows that the 1865 treaty is a complete fraud. The signatories were lied to, and the tribes never agreed to relinquish their rights. Officially recognizing and correcting this unjust history is one way we can empower and affirm tribal sovereignty today.”

“I know from my meetings with the Warm Springs tribe that this 154-year-old outrage has left lasting pain with tribal members, and I am glad that the Senate has agreed to end this shameful history,” Wyden said. “I look forward to the House taking similar action to reverse this travesty of a treaty, support tribal sovereignty and formally recognize the 1855 agreement.”

“A black cloud will be lifted by this legislation, so future generations will not have to endure it,” said Warm Springs Tribal Council Chairman Raymond Tsumpti.

In 1855, the Warm Springs Tribes entered into a treaty with the United States, defining the trust relationship between the parties, and establishing rights to land and off-reservation hunting and fishing. However, in 1865, an unscrupulous Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon, J.W. Perit Huntington, wrote a supplemental treaty that amended the 1855 agreement to prohibit members of the Warm Springs from leaving their reservation without government permission and relinquishing all off-reservation rights.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has said that it is the policy of the State of Oregon that the 1865 treaty is null and void. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has determined that the state cannot defend the 1865 treaty because U.S. vs. Oregon has already clearly established that the 1855 treaty governs the Warm Springs Tribes’ off-reservation rights. Passing this bill into law would finally provide a clear and unequivocal statement that the treaty is not only nullified, but that the United States government recognizes the treaty as a fraudulent document and a grave historical wrong against the Warm Springs Tribe.  

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