In the United States and throughout the world, there are many indigenous peoples whose culture and identity are closely connected to salmon and fisheries. Such salmon and fisheries are often dependent on maintaining adequate instream flows of water in rivers. Indigenous groups in the United States and in other countries have increasingly relied on indigenous human rights laws as a basis to keep water instream to maintain salmon and fisheries. This includes reliance on sources of international law such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the International Labor Organization's Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, the Declaration of Principles for the Defense of Indigenous Nations and Peoples in the Western Hemisphere and the Indigenous Peoples Water Declaration. This Article examines five case studies of how indigenous communities have attempted to use domestic and international law to ensure that there is adequate flowing water to sustain the fisheries upon which their tribal cultures depend. Three of these case studies come from the United States the Columbia River Basin in the Pacific Northwest, the Nooksack River in Washington, and Stanshaw Creek in California and the other two case studies come from the Saru River in Japan and the Whanganui River in New Zealand. Collectively, these case studies reveal that efforts to maintain instream flow are not only about preserving fish stocks and riverine ecosystems but can also be about preserving cultures.
35 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 377 (2021).