Appeal Of Tribal Sovereignty Case Means Washington Man Is Back In Canadian Court

Sep 11, 2018

Rick Desautel, his family and other Sinixt descendent celebrated outside the courthouse in Nelson, BC after a trial judge acquitted him of illegal hunting charges in March, 2017.
Credit Emily Schwing / NW News Network
A Washington man with tribal roots in Canada is back in court Wednesday in British Columbia. The nearly decade-long case could set precedent for tribal sovereignty issues in Canada.

More than a year and a half ago, Rick Desautel was acquitted for hunting as a non-resident and without a license in Canada. In 2009, Desautel knowingly shot an elk illegally, because he wanted to exercise his aboriginal rights.

Desautel is American. He lives in northeastern Washington on Colville Reservation. He’s also a descendent of the Sinixt tribe.

Traditional Sinixt territory stretches from the Colville Reservation north to Revelstoke, British Columbia. The Canadian government issued an extinction declaration for the Sinixt in Canada, after the last surviving member there passed away in 1956.

The case is now at the Canadian Court of Appeals in Vancouver. The Provincial government. is concerned about Canadian border security. Following this appeal, the case could go to the Canadian Supreme Court in Ottawa.