But as white pioneers, gold miners and Mormon families moved West, demand for natural resources and land increased, causing tension between Native American tribes and settlers. The conflicts culminated in the Bear River Massacre of 1863, when the U.S. military slaughtered between 200-500 Shoshone men, women and children near what is now Preston, Idaho.

Eventually, the federal government and Native American leaders signed the 1868 treaty at Fort Bridger, ceding land to the United States. In exchange, the tribes were offered some guarantees, including the right to hunt on unoccupied lands.

Today, the Northwestern Band doesn’t have reservation land and its tribal offices are in Brigham City, Utah. Historically, members of the band would spend time fishing near what is now Salmon, Idaho, would hunt big game in western Wyoming and hunt and gather in southern Idaho and Utah. Winters were often spent in southeastern Idaho.

According to the lawsuit, the state of Idaho doesn’t recognize that the northwestern bands of the Shoshone nation were part of the Fort Bridger Treaty, and doesn’t believe that members of the federally recognized Northwestern Band have the right to hunt on unoccupied lands pursuant to the treaty.

Some Northwestern Band tribal members have faced criminal convictions after Idaho game wardens said they were hunting without tags. In 1997, two brothers were found guilty for hunting out of season in Idaho, though they had hunting tags issued by the Northwestern Band. Shane and Wayde Warner appealed their convictions, claiming treaty rights under the Fort Bridger treaty.

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