Native American Journal


Yurok Tribe acquires Textron Aviation Special Missions Grand Caravan EX for aerial survey & mapping

“This new aircraft will significantly enhance our ability to holistically restore salmon-spawning streams and make our landscape more resilient to climate change,” said Yurok Vice Chairman Frankie Myers. “We employ LiDAR data and high-definition aerial imagery to maximize the efficacy of our efforts to rebuild biologically diverse ecosystems and repair fire-damaged forests in Northern California.”

June 23, 2023 Link to Article

In the same issue: (scroll down) 50th Anniversary of Matt v. Arnett

The Yurok Tribe celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Mattz v. Arnett. 

Mattz v. Arnett changed the course of history for the Yurok Tribe. The precedent-setting Supreme Court case enabled the Tribe to continue passing on the tradition of fishing from one generation to the next. The ruling set the stage for the Tribe to create a government by and for the Yurok people. It also laid the groundwork for the Tribe to manage the tribal fishery and regain authority over the Yurok Reservation.

On September 24, 1969, a California Fish and Game warden confiscated five gill nets from Aawok Raymond Mattz at Brooks Riffle on the lower Klamath River. Shortly thereafter, the director of the California Fish and Game Department, G. Raymond Arnett, initiated a hearing in state court to facilitate the forfeiture of the fishing equipment. Mattz intervened on the grounds that he was an enrolled Yurok tribal member, the nets were seized on tribal lands and therefore, state statutes pertaining to the gill netting of salmon did not apply to him. The state court, state court of appeals and the United States District Court for the Northern District of California disagreed. Based on the 1892 Act, a deplorable piece of federal legislation passed to reinforce the General Allotment Act or Dawes Act, the judges claimed that Yurok Country was no longer tribal land. The Allotment Act allowed the US government to sell “surplus” tribal land to non-Indians and precipitated the loss of nearly 40 million acres of tribal property across the United States.

Undeterred by the lower courts’ rulings, Mattz appealed the case to the US Supreme Court. Represented by California Indian Legal Services, he, his family and his supporters fought for nearly four years to overturn the lower courts’ decisions.

On June 11, 1973, US Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote, “We conclude that the Klamath River Reservation was not terminated by the Act of June 17, 1892, and that the land within the boundaries of the reservation is still Indian country. The judgment of the Court of Appeal is reversed.”