Billy Frank Jr., the foremost champion for Treaty Indian fishing, dies at 83

Nisqually elder Billy Frank Jr., a lifelong fisherman who led the battle for Treaty Indian fishing, speaks to an audience of tribal leaders past and present, activists, but most of all friends, remembering the Boldt Decision with stories. Photos of “The Old Swede,” as Billy called Judge Boldt, hung as a backdrop in memory of his momentous decision.

Nisqually elder Billy Frank Jr., a lifelong fisherman who led the battle for Treaty Indian fishing, speaks to an audience of tribal leaders past and present, activists, but most of all friends, remembering the Boldt Decision with stories this last February. Photos of “The Old Swede,” as Billy called Judge Boldt, hung as a backdrop in memory of his momentous decision. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

In the early hours of May 5, after a lifetime dedicated to protecting treaty rights of northwest tribes, Billy Frank of Nisqually dies at age 83. He is known for championing the battle for Treaty Indian fishing in the 1960s and 1970s, which culminated with the momentous Boldt Decision. He remained ceaseless in his work as chairman at the Northwest Indian Fish Commission (NWIFC) to protect and preserve the salmon resource in all aspects, continuing his work until his final day. The nation mourns the loss of a great man.

In a White House press release, President Barack Obama said this, “I was saddened to learn of the passing of Billy Frank Jr. Today, thanks to his courage and determined effort, our resources are better protected, and more tribes are able to enjoy the rights preserved for them more than a century ago.  His passion on the issue of climate change should serve as an inspiration to us all.  I extend my deepest sympathies to the Nisqually Indian Tribe, and to Billy’s family, and to his many friends who so greatly admired him.”

Tulalip Tribal Chairman Herman Williams Sr. said, “He’s always been that symbol of our relationship with the state and federal government. He’s the one out in front, leading the fight.”

As serious and determined as he was, Billy was exceedingly humble. He was a man of the people. Wherever he went, he seemed to know everyone, and was always thrilled to see his friends and relatives. He spoke frankly, and was never afraid to speak his mind and say what he knew to be right.

Terry Williams, who worked closely with Frank through the Tulalip Natural Resources Department, said, “Billy had a saying I just loved. He’d say, ‘You have got to tell the truth and recognize the truth.’ That’s what we have faced all our lives.”

Billy Frank spoke from the heart with passion and tenacity. He was revered for his words and what they accomplished.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, who sits on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, told the Everett Herald, “Billy Frank was a legend among men. Today, America lost a civil rights leader whose impact will be felt for generations to come.”

His death comes in the middle of a crucial discussion in Washington State that will change the way salmon are protected. The Fish Consumption Rate and the pollution rate are issues to be decided this year. If he were here, his words would be to stay the course. The battle doesn’t stop with the rights, it continues for the survival of the resource.

February 12 of this year marked 40 years since the Boldt Decision. At a celebration at the Squaxin Island resort remembering the battle for Treaty Indian fishing, Frank highlighted how the future of tribes is intertwined with the future of the environment. He said, “We have to protect the salmon. Look at California. The tribes there have the first water right, but there is no water. We have a right to the salmon, but if there are none, what kind of right we got?”

Tulalip Chairman Williams agrees that the fight must continue, but people have to pick up where the old leaders have left off.

“Where will the next Billy Frank rise from?” he said.

 

Andrew Gobin is a reporter with the See-Yaht-Sub, a publication of the Tulalip Tribes Communications Department.
Email: agobin@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov
Phone: (360) 716.4188

Fish Wars convictions cleared: Senate House Bill 2080 vacates felony convictions of Treaty Indian fishermen

Article by Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

Olympia – Senate House Bill 2080, introduced to the Washington State Legislature after session in 2013, was passed this year by the House on February 13th and the Senate February 5th, which coincides with the 40th annum of the Boldt Decision which settled the Fish Wars. The bill allows tribal fishermen arrested while exercising their treaty fishing rights and convicted prior to January 1st, 1975, to apply to the sentencing court to vacate their convictions including misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, and felonies. With this bill, the legislature acknowledges that no crimes were ever committed in these cases, making these convictions void.

Rep. David Sawyer, (D), whose district includes the Nisqually and Puyallup reservations, introduced SHB 2080 after session in 2013. That move gave legislators time to read the bill and engage with it, allowing it to move rather quickly through the House and Senate.

“It is an excellent bill, it writes a wrong for so many,” said Sen. John McCoy, (D). He was one of the point people for the bill as it moved through the Senate.

The language of the bill is just as important as the bill itself. It is not a pardon. It is a new law allowing Treaty Indian fishermen, who were wrongfully arrested and charged, to clear their name through vacation and expunction. To vacate the conviction means it has been rendered void by the court. To expunge means to remove completely from the record. Those two terms, from a legal stand point, make these convictions as if they never occurred, as opposed to a pardon which acknowledges the crime and validates a conviction, yet forgives the crime and sets sentencing aside.

“A crime was never committed, they [the convictions] should be expunged,” said McCoy, referring to the imposition of state law over Treaty Indian fishing.

During the Fish Wars, the State of Washington filed injunctions to block Treaty Indian fisheries. Treaty Indian fisheries, which stem from treaties made with the United States, preempt state law, meaning the state had no authority over Treaty Indian fishing activities. The momentous Boldt Decision reaffirmed the treaties and the fact that the state had no authority to block Treaty Indian fisheries. In turn, that means the state had no jurisdiction to convict those participating in Treaty Indian fishing under state laws. Senate House Bill 2080 acknowledges that and makes a way for people who never should have been charged and convicted to clear their name.

McCoy noted, “This should have been done a long time ago.”

Through the passing of SHB 2080, the State of Washington realizes the sovereignty of tribes, acknowledging that they had no authority over what happened more than 40 years ago. This sets a precedent for Washington tribes, and for tribes across the nation.

 

Andrew Gobin is a reporter with the See-Yaht-Sub, a publication of the Tulalip Tribes Communications Department.
Email: agobin@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov
Phone: (360) 716.4188

Justice in its most luminous form: Remembering the Boldt Decision and the battle for Treaty Indian fishing

Nisqually elder Billy Frank Jr., a lifelong fisherman who led the battle for Treaty Indian fishing, speaks to an audience of tribal leaders past and present, activists, but most of all friends, remembering the Boldt Decision with stories. Photos of “The Old Swede,” as Billy called Judge Boldt, hung as a backdrop in memory of his momentous decision.

Nisqually elder Billy Frank Jr., a lifelong fisherman who led the battle for Treaty Indian fishing, speaks to an audience of tribal leaders past and present, activists, but most of all friends, remembering the Boldt Decision with stories. Photos of “The Old Swede,” as Billy called Judge Boldt, hung as a backdrop in memory of his momentous decision. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

When do your rights expire? When do the terms of treaties cease? Never. The Boldt Decision sought to resolve these questions. In 1970, at the height of tensions between Puget Sound tribes and the State of Washington, the United States on behalf of the tribes filed suit against the State of Washington for violating the tribes’ treaties. More than three years later Judge George H. Boldt, who heard U.S. v. Washington and for whom the decision is named, handed down his decision in favor of the tribes, reaffirming the treaties and rights secured to Indians therein. Forty years later, tribal leaders from Puget Sound tribes, activists, and other notable people involved in the battle for Treaty Indian fishing rights gathered February 5th and 6th in Squaxin Island to remember the fight to protect their right, to discuss the importance of the Boldt Decision and all that it accomplished, and to reaffirm the commitment to continue the fight.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the State of Washington began filing injunctions, blocking Indian fisheries in the name of conservation. Indian people throughout the Puget Sound, though, continued to fish, practicing their culture and feeding their families, risking arrest and violence from state law enforcement.

Billy Frank Jr., Nisqually elder and prominent figure throughout the Boldt Decision, said, “We came down to the river, and they [the cops] had confiscated everything. ‘Where are our nets? Our boats?’ I thought. ‘How are we supposed to feed our families?’”

“We had to fish at night, which was dangerous. But we had to fish at night because it was illegal. What could we do? It was our way of life, we couldn’t stop,” recalled Hank Adams, a Native American activist from the Assiniboine Sioux tribe. Adams fished with Billy Frank and his family on the Nisqually River.

Frank championed the fight for treaty rights, with many leaders at that time rallied behind him and his family. Their traditional fishing grounds, Frank’s Landing, became ground zero in the battle for Treaty Indian fishing. Frank’s Landing played host to many fish-ins in protest of the injunctions, which gained national attention. Tribal leaders were joined at fish-ins by members of AIM (The American Indian Movement) and celebrities, such as renowned stage and screen actor, Marlon Brando. Most fish-ins ended in mass arrests. One famous photograph shows Brando packing two salmon up the bank at Frank’s Landing, only to be arrested with other participants.

Puyallup Elder and fisherwoman, Ramona Bennet, recalls being arrested on several occasions.

“They heard we were fishing, and the pigs [cops] come down to arrest us. Women, children, men, they didn’t care, they arrested all of us, whole families. One of the pigs went over to my mom, knee deep in fish in the back of a pickup. She told them, ‘You want my fish? HERE!’ and she picked up a fish and slapped that pig upside the head.”

Because of the tensions at Frank’s Landing, not every fish-in ended in arrest. Hank Adams remembers how nervous Thurston County Sheriffs were, not wanting to escalate the dispute.

“One day we were fishing, and Billy went up the [Nisqually] river to check the net. The Sheriffs launched two air boats at the rail bridge upriver and were comin’ for Billy. I was at his sister’s place. He come tearin’ down the river shouting, ‘Get the gun!’ So I grabbed the rifle and headed out the door. I ran down the bank and came to a clearing and ran into some other law enforcement. There was an old burnt out car, so I ran and jumped down behind it. I used my army training and used the butt of the rifle to break my fall, and when I did that the rifle went off. At the same time my hand slipped off the butt of the gun and hit what Billy tells as a broken beer bottle, but it was a Pepsi bottle. So I cut my hand on the neck of that Pepsi bottle and was bleeding everywhere. But when that gun went off, the guys in those airboats hit the deck and flew right on past Billy, and he hit the bank and was unloading his fish. Next thing we know, there’s about 30 Thurston County Sheriffs cars and some state troopers pulled up, guns drawn, and the chief jumps out in front and says, ‘Hold your fire, put your guns down, everyone just calm down.’ He come over and looked at me and my hand, ‘Come on over here I got a first aid kit in the truck,’ he said. He got me all bandaged up, the bandages were all bloody, it really just looked terrible. The newspapers the next day said, ‘Mystery surrounds evening events at Frank’s Landing. No arrests were made, though Native Activist Hank Adams sustained some sort of injury.’”

These encounters happened on a daily basis, as the state held their injunctions to be valid, and acted accordingly. Tribal families experienced hardships as heads of household were jailed repeatedly. The tribes stood firm on the treaty, fighting to protect their fishing rights, and ultimately their sovereignty.

Frank said, “Who do I go to? Do I go to the governor? Do I go to the congress? Nobody listens…oh you’re all just Indians.”

In 1970, with the state continuously challenged by the tribes, the United States as the trustee of the tribes filed suit against Washington in Federal District court, Judge George H. Boldt was assigned to the case.

Members of Judge Boldt’s family attended the celebration and were honored for his memory. His daughter, Virginia Riedinger, had this to say.

“My father grew up in Chicago with nothing but the American dream. His father moved them to Montana where he finished high school. He put himself through college, and graduated with a law degree from the University of Montana in 1926. After practicing law for more than 15 years, he enlisted to serve this country in WWII at an age that was unheard of, especially as a volunteer. When he returned he became a trial lawyer in Tacoma Washington, and was later appointed by President Eisenhower as the Federal District Court Judge in 1953, where he spent more than 25 years on the bench.

As a judge, my father held true to the laws of this country. He believed in the law, and was known for his hard decisions and expedited court processes. He often was recruited to assist in other courts across the nation that were backlogged with cases. One thing was constant, my father always did what he knew was right and I never knew him to look back with regret or doubt.”

Members of Judge Boldt's family that attended the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Boldt Decision. His daughter, Virginia Riedinger (center) spoke about her father and the toll the Boldt decision took on him and his family.

Members of Judge Boldt’s family that attended the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Boldt Decision. His daughter, Virginia Riedinger (center) spoke about her father and the toll the Boldt decision took on him and his family. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

As the case continued, and later was decided, Judge Boldt and his family were subjected to vicious public attacks on his reputation. A photo displayed throughout the celebration captured a burning effigy of the Judge, strung up in a tree outside the District Courthouse, all wrapped up, presumably, in an Indian fishing net. Even so, Boldt remained undeterred in his will to uphold the law.

For more than three years the case went on, hearing from both sides. The case was rather unique in some aspects, as the question of fishing rights had not been previously understood from a legal perspective. There was limited legal precedent that reaffirmed the treaties and preempted state laws. For this case, the information had to be more in depth. Charles Wilkinson, a law professor at the University of Colorado and well-known legal scholar, gave a powerful speech about the Boldt Decision.

“Judge Boldt, ruling on the basis of justice in its most luminous dimensions rather than on the strenuous hearsay and other technical objections of the state’s attorneys, accepted the elders’ testimony into evidence and listened raptly.

Ask people who saw all or most of that trial, and they will tell you that the elders’ testimony brought the whole story together.  Judge Boldt had worked hard and open-mindedly on this case and, by the time the elders took the stand, he had acquired an expansive knowledge of Indian law, and all the testimony already heard may have caused him to have his final ruling in mind.  But the straightforward, utterly authentic words and bearing of the traditional Native people made his decision of February 12, 1974 inevitable.”

Charles Wilkinson delivered a powerful speech on Judge Boldt, his decision on U.S. v. Washington, and what it means for Federal Indian Law today.

Charles Wilkinson delivered a powerful speech on Judge Boldt, his decision on U.S. v. Washington, and what it means for Federal Indian Law today. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Relying on testimony of the elders, along with the vast ethnographic work of scholars, such as Dr. Barbara Lane, who were called as expert witnesses, Judge Boldt looked critically at the language of the treaty. He handed down his decision in 1974 in favor of the tribes, holding the United States accountable to the promises of the Stevens Treaties of the Washington Territory, including the Treaty of Point Elliot, the Treaty of Point No Point, and the Treaty of Medicine Creek.

What did the decision mean? Was it truly a victory? At the time, not all tribal people saw it as such.

“I cried when I heard the decision. ‘We lost half our fish!’ I yelled,” said Bennet.

Others saw it as a great victory, for Washington tribes, for fishing, and treaty rights, and for tribes across the nation. The decision reaffirmed the treaties and recognized the sovereignty of tribes.

Wilkinson said, “Make no mistake about it: the transcendent contribution of the Boldt Decision was to uphold the treaty rights of the Northwest tribes.  But it was also a national case about national commitments and values.”

Because the state refused to act on the decision, continuing attempts to block Indian fisheries, Judge Boldt exercised continuing jurisdiction, rarely used, which maintains the court’s control over decisions, to ensure the decision was implemented. Judge Boldt was committed to upholding the law and his decision, and his continuing jurisdiction is still in effect today.

The fight continues, though today the questions have shifted. What does it mean to have a treaty right to fish? Boldt’s decision recognized tribes as sovereign, and having a shared right to the salmon resource naming them as co-managers and regulators of the resource, but what does that mean? The fight for Treaty Indian fishing was about bringing the past forward, the fight today is about protecting the future of the resource.

Frank said, “We have to protect the salmon. Look at California. The tribes there have the first water right, but there is no water. We have a right to the salmon, but if there are none, what kind of right we got?”

Billy Frank Jr. adresses the current issues tribes face.

Billy Frank Jr. adresses the current issues tribes face. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Recently, what’s known as the Culvert Case held the state accountable for making streams in developed areas passable to salmon. The State Fish Consumption Rate, which affects water quality and pollution, says that, on average, citizens consume eight ounces of salmon a month, about the size of one U.S. quarter a day. For Puget Sound tribes, salmon is a staple both in diet and culture. Today, it remains central to tribal economies as it has historically, even pre-contact. If the consumption rate stands, more pollutants would be allowed to go into the water, meaning more salmon die off.

Frank said, “They’re poisoning the water. It’s poisoned. The salmon that come out of the Nisqually River, half of them are dead before they reach the Narrows [in Tacoma].”

The tribes have won the Culvert Case, and continue to work on others.

In recognition of all the ancestors, the empty chair sat at the front of the room to remind people they are still here. The basket was filled with names of people who have passed on, who fought through the Boldt Decision.

In recognition of all the ancestors, the empty chair sat at the front of the room to remind people they are still here. The basket was filled with names of people who have passed on, who fought through the Boldt Decision. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Throughout the celebration, an empty chair sat near the front. It was a symbol of all the ancestors of the tribes that fished the Puget Sound, as well as those warriors of the Boldt Decision that have passed on; Guy McMinds, Bernie Gobin, Vernon Lane, and Chet Cayou Sr., to name a few. The importance of this chair is immense. It represents the passing of the torch to the younger generation. The celebration of the Boldt Decision was to remind the younger generation about the importance of the treaty, how hard their elders fought to protect it, and how hard they need to continue to fight for the treaty, for their sovereignty, and for their culture.

Youth from all the different tribes that attended the Boldt 40 celebration were honored and thinker, as well as reminded of their responsibility to pick up where the elders are leaving off.

Youth from all the different tribes that attended the Boldt 40 celebration were honored and thinker, as well as reminded of their responsibility to pick up where the elders are leaving off. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

 

Andrew Gobin is a reporter with the See-Yaht-Sub, a publication of the Tulalip Tribes Communications Department.
Email: agobin@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov
Phone: (360) 716.4188

Everyone’s Problem: Secretary of the Interior holds discussion on the impacts of climate change on the Pacific Northwest

Secertary_Jewell1

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell (left) and UW Dean of the College of the Environment Dr. Lisa Graumlich (right) hold a round table discussion at the University of Washington in Seattle with researchers and other program managers to discuss the impacts of Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

Seattle – The United States Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, along with Dean of College of the Environment at University of Washington Dr. Lisa Graumlich, convened a meeting at the University of Washington (UW) in order to discuss climate change, the data we have already seen in the Pacific Northwest, and what the regional impacts are. Representatives from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), UW faculty, the National Parks Service, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the North Cascades National Parks Complex, the Olympic National Park, and other organizations attended the February 4th meeting. Impacts on ecology, landscape, development and public planning were discussed, though for Native American Tribes, the implications are much more complex as they affect cultural identities. Although tribes’ interests are more deeply vested, collaboration was highlighted throughout the meeting as key to successfully combating climate change.

Dr. Gustavo Bisbal, Director of the USGS Northwest Climate Science Center, said, “{Tribes} have their finger on the pulse of the land. These communities don’t just worry about ‘oh well we can’t go snowboarding,’ or ‘I cannot go and water my carrots.’ There is a spiritual significance to the resources that they don’t see anymore. There is a danger of cultural erosion with things going away. ‘I can’t do this anymore. I cannot be…I cannot realize my tribal identity.’ That is huge, to understand the significance of how those resources are changing, and are really transforming cultures.”

For many years tribes, especially in Washington State, have led the charge in protecting natural resources. Stemming from the 1974 Boldt Decision, which protected tribal interests and rights to natural resources, tribal sovereignty was realized through the recognition of their authority to co-manage resources with state and federal entities. Today, although tribes remain at the forefront with their survival deeply vested in the preservation of natural resources, it is apparent that everyone has an interest in combating issues that come with climate change.

“I think one big lesson that nature, of course, taught us over time is there’s really no geographic or institution boundaries. When you look at the State of Washington, Department of Natural Resources owns the land, forest land, park land, tribal land, and they’re all impacted,” said Hedia Adelsman, policy analyst for the Department of Ecology and appointed proxy for the governor for the meeting. “Ultimately, how do we then work together to not have this fragmentation.”

These entities historically have worked individually, even in natural resource preservation efforts. DNR, for example, is currently developing a climate change adaptation plan, though it only affects DNR land. The boundaries on the land do nothing to contain environmental impacts. On Mount Rainier

Other entities get wrapped up in whether or not it is their responsibility to preserve natural resources or prepare for climate change.

“A climate catastrophe is not the time to have an identity crisis. From a National Parks Service perspective, I think there are still those many, many people within our population who think of national parks as zoos. Some of us realize the importance of national parks for the baseline information that they can provide regarding climate change. From a policy and legislative perspective, they look at specific species in parks, which a zoo-like mentality, as opposed to looking long range and thinking; well what if Roosevelt Elk actually move out of the park habitat, or what if they’re not doing so well. To what extreme would we go to maintain a population of Roosevelt Elk at the expense of keeping baseline data to inform climate change decisions,” said Sarah Creachbaum, Superintendent for the Olympic National Park.

Creachbaum demonstrated two roadblocks that need to change, one being the perspectives at the decision making level, and the second being the challenges in identity and questions of responsibility. The National Parks Service essentially is at the frontline, observing environmental changes on a daily basis. The potential data they stand to provide, in addition to what they do now, is overlooked because of these roadblocks. Creachbaum said they want to come to the table and be part of the team, but their significance has yet to be realized. That lack of vision in addition to oversight at the policy level creates a gap, consequentially hindering natural resource preservation.

Adelsman said, “We are just at the beginning of starting to look at it as a system. The part that I struggle the most with is we are recipient of the science, and we say we need to consider that in our planning policies, but what does that really mean?”

Climate change affects regions and regional systems beyond the natural environment, including the economy, public health, and population. For tribes, the effects will change tribal identity and culture if there are no longer traditional natural resources to have access to. At the end of the day, it is more than a tribal issue, more than a local or regional issue. In the Pacific Northwest, even speaking locally, climate change is an international challenge, as we share waters and mountains. Climate change impacts everyone and it will take a consorted, multi-national effort to plan for and prevent changes in the Pacific Northwest.

 

Andrew Gobin: 360-716-4188; agobin@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Fishing life at Tulalip

Salmon cooked traditionally, Sebastien and Eleanor Williams, Tulalip Bay by the old dining hall, now Tulalip Montessori. Totem Beach, Tulalip c.1960s. Courtesy of Mae Williams.

Salmon cooked traditionally, Sebastien and Eleanor Williams, Tulalip Bay by the old dining hall, now Tulalip Montessori. Totem Beach, Tulalip c.1960s. Courtesy of Mae Williams.

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

It was the first day of my fifth grade year, but I was not going to be in class. At 5:00 a.m. while my classmates slept, waiting to start yet another year of school, I had already had breakfast and bundled up for the opening of the Silver (Coho) Salmon run. We made a beach seine set, right around a school of Silvers. I had never seen so many fish. We had 1500 fish in that set, and one lone chum for good measure. Growing up, this was my life. My summers were spent beach seining and roundhauling as much as I could. Each year, I would miss the first week of school, which always seemed to coincide with the start of the Silver run. And as the fishing seasons continued into November, the weather worsened, and I would beg to go fishing with dad. It is a way of life for my family, for many families, at Tulalip and all along the Puget Sound. For many, it was a living.

Tulalip fisherman Clyde Williams recalls early fishing in the 40s and 50s.

“We moved to the beach the day after school got out. We would buy our shoes at the commissary; everyone had Navy shoes. We were beach seining. We lived on the beach. Next to me was Stan, Bernie, and the Cheers. When we were fishing, if there was something wrong with our net we’d have to stretch it out at low tide and rehang it.

Just about everybody around here had a smoke house, back when we lived down there at the big house. We fished all day to fill the smoke house. That’s when everybody stayed at the big house. All the women would butcher fish all day long, we’d have to go out there as kids and pack wood in for the smokehouse, and we were the ones that had to keep the fire up. They’d always tell us ‘don’t you pile too much wood on you’ll burn the smokehouse down.’ We tended fires all day, we had to go check the fire every hour, make sure it was still burning. Even all night we’d have to go out there. They’d leave it in there for two days, and that was enough.

Fishing really took off. Everybody was catching fish, and then we went further out, changing from seining, to gillnetting, to roundhauling. Wes Charles and Chuck James brought the gillnetting to Tulalip. They were the first ones. A lot of people don’t know that anymore. Roundhauling was really something different. Bernie and Herman were the first ones to go out there; they roundhauled by hand for years before they did it with power. All of those guys used to get two or three hundred kings in a set. There was a state gillnetter that used to shoot at us. Other state boats tried to ram our boats and run up our nets chopping them all up.”

Fishing Kings Lawrence Jones, Penny Jones, and Stan Jones, Spee-Bi-Dah c.1950s. Courtesy of Stan and JoAnn Jones.

Fishing Kings Lawrence Jones, Penny Jones, and Stan Jones, Spee-Bi-Dah c.1950s. Courtesy of Stan and JoAnn Jones.

Tulalip fisherman Stan Jones remembers fishing growing up in the 40s and 50s, and the struggle that grew through the 60s as the state began enforcing new laws, leading up to the Boldt Decision. Stan stepped away from fishing serving 44 years on Tulalip Tribal Council and was a key player during the Boldt Decision.

“Dad always had a net in the back of the house, in the back room. He hung his nets in there, sewed every mesh out of linen. Once when he was out I went in and tried to sew his net; he came home and cut all my work out and redid it. We just had short nets, dad stayed on shore or up in the river.

When dad was sick, me and my brother Junior, we’d take the boat out and fish. Once up in the river we had about 25 or 30 Kings.

We couldn’t fish during the day, so we fished at night. The state fisheries officer John LaPlant, he used to come by and harass us. ‘If you’re gonna be here, put some lights on your boat,’ he’d say. Then the other rule was we couldn’t be more than 600 hundred feet offshore, so we just had little short nets. They were always coming by to see how far we stretched our nets out. If they thought you were too far, they arrest you right off the boat, and let your boat and net go adrift.”

Growing up, I heard these stories constantly. I almost feel like I was there, like I knew John LaPlant. I grew up in a post war era. Playing in the backyard there were many parts to boats and old fishing equipment,  old corks scattered from hanging nets, and there was the old smokehouse. Grandpa used to smoke fish, not like the old days. Fishing and smoking fish though, that’s when the stories came out.

I learned the shores of Tulalip by the fishing landmarks and family grounds. Dad always says things like, “Run this end of the net up there into Roy Henry’s grounds.”

I didn’t know then, but I was learning about who we were, who we are, and the struggle to protect that. Dad would point out places on the shoreline, telling some fish stories. Even if we weren’t fishing, maybe driving around Tacoma or up across Deception Pass, Dad was always telling fishing stories. If grandpa was with us we had twice the stories. Amidst the stories, there was talk about the regulations and the law, and the fish wars. Today, I realize that the life I live fishing, like many others, was hard fought to protect. It is so much more as well. It is our identity, it defined our parents and grandparents, and it is our way of life.

Fishing in common in usual and accustomed areas

Celebrating Indian fishing and treaty rights 40 years after the Boldt decision

Early Tulalip beach seining photos courtesy of the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center Museum.

Early Tulalip beach seining photos courtesy of the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center Museum.

By Andrew Gobin,  Tulalip News

A landmark case for Washington Indians and treaty fishing rights, the Boldt decision continues to have far reaching implications for tribes across the United States. For Washington tribes, the Boldt decision settled a conflict that began with the signing of the treaties. It upheld the tribe’s reserved right to fish, hunt, gather, and take shellfish as they always had. The crux of the Supreme Court case was the interpretation of the treaty, specifically the terms “in common with the citizens of the territory,” and “at usual and accustomed grounds and stations.”

The Boldt decision, or U.S. v. Washington as the legal case title reads, was heard in the 9th District Appellate court in 1973, decided in 1974 by Judge George H. Boldt. The decision was later affirmed in the United States Supreme Court. The interpretation of the terms “in common” and “usual and accustomed areas” (U&A) is paramount to understanding questions of whether Indians have the right to fish off of the reservation and whether Indians are guaranteed an allocation of the available fish.

The case stemmed from the fish wars, in which tribal fishermen were arrested and injunctions were filed limiting tribal fisheries. At the time, as soon as state fisheries were open, fishermen took all of the available salmon resource before they reached tribes’ harvestable waters. One crucial interpretation in the Boldt decision was the definition of “in common,” a legal term that means, in equal parts.

Early Tulalip beach seining photo courtesy of the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center Museum.

Early Tulalip beach seining photo courtesy of the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center Museum.

This was not the first look at what the treaty meant by “in common with the citizens of the territory.” Judge Boldt cited U.S. v. Winans, a case from 1905 settling a dispute between then Yakima Nation (now Yakama Nation) and a private company that was operating a fish wheel on the Columbia River on private deeded land. They built fences intended to exclude access by Yakima Indians in an effort to optimize their business. The lower courts decided that deeded land could exclude Indians from exercising their rights in their U&A, a decision that was overturned by the Supreme Court, upholding the Yakama’s treaty. Similarly, Boldt decided on that precedent that the right of a tribe to take fish in their respective U&A, which was secured to them through various treaties, meant they had a right to do so off of the reservation. For this case, “in common” meant equal access and opportunity.

Nearly 70 years later, when the Boldt decision was filed, the fishing industry had grown immensely on a global scale thanks to advancing technology. State fisheries were harvesting salmon in the ocean where tribes had no claim to U&A. Tribal fisheries were then closed under the guise of preserving the salmon runs, though state fisheries continued on inland waters. Judge Boldt reexamined the term “in common with the citizens of the territory.”

Early Tulalip beach seining photo courtesy of the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center Museum.

Early Tulalip beach seining photo courtesy of the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center Museum.

Boldt broke down this phrase, defining the territory as it would have been defined at the time of the treaty, meaning the Washington Territory. He then looked at the term “in common,” which he defined not only as equal access and opportunity, but also as equal portion.

Finally, Boldt decided that that State had a responsibility to ensure the tribes’ allocation was met, meaning that the salmon resource had to be kept at healthy levels to ensure there was enough to go around. From his interpretations he drafted what is commonly referred to as the blue book, which outlined what fish allocations and management of the salmon resource would look like. Basically, Washington tribes share amongst them half of the available salmon resource for the state, each tribe receiving different allocations of salmon based on U&A.

The implications from the Boldt decision are still prominent in Federal Indian Law, especially in Washington State. Recently there have been cases that address similar treaty rights as they pertain to harvesting of shellfish, hunting, and gathering of roots, berries, and plants. The most influential issues in the state currently that are built off of the foundations laid in the Boldt decision deal with protecting salmon habitat, which are the Culvert Case and the State’s Fish Consumption Rate.

Early Tulalip beach seining photo courtesy of the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center Museum.

Early Tulalip beach seining photo courtesy of the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center Museum.

 

Point Elliott Treaty, 159 years later

As we approach the 159th birthday of the Point Elliott Treay, we also celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Boldt decision, both of which have had tremendous impacts on Tulalip and all of Indian Country. We are re-printing the following article from 2005 in honor of these events.

This photo was taken in Mukilteo during the 1955 celebration of the 100th anniversay of the signing of the Point Elliott Treaty by Tulalip Church of God Pastor B. Adam Williams.

This photo was taken in Mukilteo during the 1955 celebration of the 100th anniversay of the signing of the Point Elliott Treaty by Tulalip Church of God Pastor B. Adam Williams.

Point Elliott Treaty’s 150th birthday: A cause for celebration

By Sherry Guydelkon, Tulalip See-Yaht-Sub, January 19, 2005

According to the historical record, 4,992 native people took part in the negotiation of the Point Elliott Treaty in 1855.  The treaty was signed on January 22nd, one hundred fifty years ago this month.

The Governor of Washington Territory, Isaac Stevens, had sent word to the Indians of northern Puget Sound that he would meet with them towards the end of January to discuss a treaty of friendship.  By mid-January, Snohomish and Snoqualmie people began gathering at Point Elliott.  As others arrived – Swinomish, Lummi, Duwamish, and so on – the Snohomish and Snoqualmie people lined up on the beach to greet them.

By this time Puget Sound Indian tribes, weakened by new diseases and aware of the fates of tribes in the east who had tried to fight off white invasions, knew it was useless to refuse to deal with the U.S. government.  White settlers were already moving onto their land, and the most they could hope for was payment for land taken and the opportunity to be left alone on the land that was left.

Years later Tulalip tribal elder William Shelton would recall that the people who traveled to Point Elliott in 1855 went with hearts open to the whites and with full confidence that they would be allowed to get food and would not starve.  “My father was present at the treaty signing,” said Shelton.  “He often has told me about the pow-wow – the negotiations, which had to be done through two interpreters.  One translated the white man’s language into Chinook jargon and another interpreter translated the jargon into the various tribal languages.”  Since Chinook jargon, a sort of code language used originally by fur traders, consisted of only about 50 words, the process was guaranteed to be hopelessly unsatisfactory, but that did not concern Governor Stevens.  He had no interest in understanding the wishes of the Indian people anyway.

Stevens, who had received orders from Washington, D.C., to make treaties with all of the Indians in what is now Washington State, arrived with a draft treaty in hand, determined to gain as much Indian land for the United States as possible by concentrating tribes in as small an area as he could get away with.

Stevens believed that Indians must be removed from the path of American progress, and that their removal could be done in a benevolent way.  He knew what was best for the tribes of Washington, he said, and that was to put them on small reservations where they could learn to farm (which he believed was more civilized than hunting and fishing) and where they could receive the education necessary to become integrated into white society.  Stevens, who saw himself as a stern but just father to the Indians, allowed the headmen to speak, but in the end he did what he had planned to do all along.

 

Why the treaties were important to the U.S.

In the 1840’s, the U.S. government did not believe that it had a secure hold on the territory that is now Washington State.  With British and Russian settlements cropping up on the Canadian and Alaskan coastline, the U.S. felt an urgent need to keep them from encroaching on U.S.-claimed soil, by encouraging American citizens to settle there.

Consequently, in 1850, Congress passed the Oregon Donation Land Act, which offered free land to settlers who would move to the northwest (Oregon Territory included what is now Washington State).  At that point, the U.S. government was in the awkward position of offering free land to settlers without first buying it from the Indians.  The treaties were intended to buy land already taken by white settlers and to make more land available for settlement.  As had been the case from colonial times, the U.S. government was more interested in settling the west than it was in protecting Indian land rights.

The Negotiations

When the Council began at Point Elliott on January 22, 1855, the four chiefs that the whites considered to be the most important were seated in the front row:  Chief Sealth (Seattle) who represented the Duwamish, Chief Patkanim who represented the Snohomish and Snoqualmies, Chief Goliah who represented the Skagits, and Chief Chow-its-hoot who represented the Lummis.  The sub-chiefs were seated next, and then the rest of the people.

“You understand well my purpose,” said Governor Stevens, “and you want now to know the special things we propose to do for you.  We want to place you in homes where you can cultivate the soil, raising potatoes and other articles of food and where you may be able to pass in canoes over the waters of the sound and catch fish, and back to the mountains to get roots and berries.

“The lands are yours and we swear to pay you for them.  We thank you that you have been so kind to all the white children of the great Father (President) who have come here from the east.  Those white children have always told you that you would be paid for your lands, and we are now here to buy them.

“My children, I believe that I have got your hearts, you have my heart.  We will put our hearts down on paper, and then we will sign our names.  I will send that paper to the Great Father, and if he says it is good it will stand forever.”

Many lofty speeches were made by both sides, but in the minds of the U.S. representatives there was little room for true negotiation.  They knew what they wanted, and their purpose was to convince the Indians to sign the treaty document that they had already drafted.

In the end, the upper Puget Sound tribes, who had for centuries lived comfortably through the efficient use of the abundant fish, game and plants that were native to their homelands, were forced to sign away most of their land and control over their lives.

 

What the Tribes lost

Tulalip Agency Superintendent Charles M. Buchanan wrote in 1915, “This treaty established the Tulalip Agency and its reservations – Tulalip, Lummi, Swinomish and Port Madison.  And by this treaty the Indians of Tulalip Agency ceded to the white man all of the land lying between the summit of the Cascades, the western shore of Puget Sound, Point Pully or Three-Tree Point, and the international boundary line.  This area includes all the land lying in the counties of Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, most of King and a part of Kitsap – the very choicest and most valuable portion of the State of Washington.

Other things given up included:  independence from the U.S. government, the ability to declare war on whites or on other tribes, the right to purchase or consume alcohol on the reservation, the taking and keeping of slaves, and the right to trade with the Indian nations on Vancouver Island.

 

What the Tribes kept or gained

The treaty established four reservations – Tulalip, Lummi, Swinomish and Port Madison.  Later the Muckleshoot reservation was added.  These amounted to the following number of acres.  Tulalip – 22,459 acres, Lummi – 12,543 acres, Suquamish – 7,168 acres, Port Madison – 7,284 acres, and Muckleshoot – 3,714 acres.

In exchange for the land, the tribes received a settlement of $150,000 to be paid over 20 years.  Because it was Stevens’ intent to pay for the land taken as much as possible with goods and services and not cash, tribes were also promised that they would be furnished with an agricultural and industrial school, a doctor, farmers, blacksmiths and carpenters.

The treaty also provided for the right of taking fish at usual and accustomed grounds and stations in common with all citizens of the Territory; of erecting temporary houses for the purpose of curing; and of hunting and gathering roots and berries on open and unclaimed lands.

The treaty minutes show that many Puget Sound native people were most fearful of losing their fisheries, but Governor Stevens repeatedly assured them that they would have the right to go to the place they had always used.  At that time, the federal government did not foresee any conflicts between the guarantee of continuing fishing rights for the Indians and the growing population of Washington Territory.  The settlers were coming to farm, not fish, and were content to let the Indians provide fish for local consumption.  Non-Indians did not become fishing competitors until the late 1870’s.

Education provisions were often included in Indian treaties because both sides wanted them included, but for conflicting reasons.  The federal government planned to use schools to change little Indian children into carbon copies of little white children, thus eliminating the “Indian problem”.  Indians, on the other hand, viewed education as a means by which Indian children could learn how to understand and deal with the non-Indian world around them.

Perhaps the most important thing that Indian treaties have done is to recognize the tribes’ inherent sovereignty.  Sovereignty is the power of a group of people to govern themselves.  Indians were not given sovereignty by treaties – they already had the power to govern themselves.  However, since the U.S. government defined treaties as binding, legal agreements between sovereign nations, when they made treaties with Indian nations, they legally recognized those nations as sovereign.

There is much legal confusion about the amount of sovereignty an Indian nation can have when its members are also citizens of the United States.  But tribal governments, tribal courts, tribal police, tribal taxation, tribal zoning, tribal casinos, tax-free trust land are all indications that federal courts recognize the tribes’ right to at least a certain amount of self government.

 

How has the Point Elliot Treaty held up in court?

The courts have played the most significant role in the interpretation of Indian treaties.  Under the U.S. Constitution, treaties made by the United States are the supreme law of the land.  The federal courts have generally held that Indian treaties are treaties in the constitutional sense and thus are the supreme law of the land.  That means that if a state law does not agree with what is said in an Indian treaty, the treaty trumps state law.

And regardless of the fact that the Point Elliott Treaty is 150 years old, it is as legally binding today as it was when it was ratified by Congress in 1859.

The Boldt Decision is perhaps the most well-known example of a Point Elliott Treaty right being upheld in federal court.  The courts agreed with Puget Sound tribes that the treaty promised Indians the right to half of the salmon in their usual and accustomed areas, regardless of Washington State laws and regulations which limited Indian catches.

Treaties are monumentally important documents to Indian peoples because they provide a legal basis around which Indian nations can protect their reservation lands; their rights to minerals, water, hunting, fishing and gathering areas; and their rights to self-government.

Many non-Indians believe that treaties should be abolished and that Indians should just be mainstream Americans with no more or less rights than any other Americans.  But treaty Indians know how much they gave up for their special rights, and they know that it is their treaty rights that allow them to remain Indians, following in the footsteps of their ancestors, looking out for one another from birth to death.

Gathering at the beach in Mukilteo. Photo by Tulalip Church of God Pastor B. Adam Williams.

Gathering at the beach in Mukilteo. Photo by Tulalip Church of God Pastor B. Adam Williams.

If you did not already have a copy of the Point Elliott Treaty, you have one now (see below).  Read it.  Keep it.  Cherish it.  It is a gift from your ancestors to you.

 

Treaty of Point Elliott, 1855

Articles of agreement and convention made and concluded at Muckl-te-oh, or Point Elliott, in the territory of Washington, this twenty-second day of January, eighteen hundred and fifty-five, by Isaac I. Stevens, governor and superintendent of Indian affairs for the saidTerritory, on the part of the United States, and the undersigned chiefs, head-men and delegates of the Dwamish, Suquamish, Sk-kahl-mish, Sam-ahmish, Smalh-kamish, Skope-ahmish, St-kah-mish, Snoqualmoo, Skai-wha-mish, N’Quentl-ma-mish, Sk-tah-le-jum, Stoluck-wha-mish, Sno-ho-mish, Skagit, Kik-i-allus, Swin-a-mish, Squin-ah-mish, Sah-ku-mehu, Noo-wha-ha, Nook-wa-chah-mish, Mee-see-qua-guilch, Cho-bah-ah-bish, and othe allied and subordinate tribes and bands of Indians occupying certain lands situated in said Territory of Washington, on behalf of said tribes, and duly authorized by them.

 

ARTICLE 1.

The said tribes and bands of Indians hereby cede, relinquish, and convey to the United States all their right, title, and interest in and to the lands and country occupied by them, bounded and described as follows: Commencing at a point on the eastern side of Admiralty Inlet, known as Point Pully, about midway between Commencement and Elliott Bays; thence eastwardly, running along the north line of lands heretofore ceded to the United States by the Nisqually, Puyallup, and other Indians, to the summit of the Cascade range of mountains; thence northwardly, following the summit of said range to the 49th parallel of north latitude; thence west, along said parallel to the middle of the Gulf of Georgia; thence through the middle of said gulf and the main channel through the Canal de Arro to the Straits of Fuca, and crossing the same through the middle of Admiralty Inlet to Suquamish Head; thence southwesterly, through the peninsula, and following the divide between Hood’s Canal and Admiralty Inlet to the portage known as Wilkes’ Portage; thence northeastwardly, and following the line of lands heretofore ceded as aforesaid to Point Southworth, on the western side of Admiralty Inlet, and thence around the foot of Vashon’s Island eastwardly and southeastwardly to the place of beginning, including all the islands comprised within said boundaries, and all the right, title, and interest of the said tribes and bands to any lands within the territory of the United States.

ARTICLE 2.

There is, however, reserved for the present use and occupation of the said tribes and bands the following tracts of land, viz:the amount of two sections, or twelve hundred and eighty acres, surrounding the small bight at the head of Port Madison, called by the Indians Noo-sohk-um; the amount of two sections, or twelve hundred and eighty acres, on the north side Hwhomish Bay and the creek emptying into the same called Kwilt-seh-da, the peninsula at the southeastern end of Perry’s Island, called Shais-quihl, and the island called Chah-choo-sen, situated in the Lummi River at the point of separation of the mouths emptying respectively into Bellingham Bay and the Gulf of Georgia. All which tracts shall be set apart, and so far as necessary surveyed and marked out for their exclusive use; nor shall any white man be permitted to reside upon the same without permission of the said tribes or bands, and of the superintendent or agent, but, if necessary for the public convenience, roads may be run through the said reserves, the Indians being compensated for any damage thereby done them.

ARTICLE 3.

There is also reserved from out the lands hereby ceded the amount of thirty-six sections, or one township of land, on the northeastern shore of Port Gardner, and north of the mouth of Snohomish River, including Tulalip Bay and the before-mentioned Kwilt-seh-da Creek, for the purpose of establishing thereon an agricultural and industrial school, as hereinafter mentioned and agreed, and with a view of ultimately drawing thereto and settling thereon all the Indians living west of the Cascade Mountains in said Territory. Provided, however, That the President may establish the central agency and general reservation at such other point as he may deem for the benefit of the Indians.

ARTICLE 4.

The said tribes and bands agree to remove to and settle upon the said first above-mentioned reservations within one year after the ratification of this treaty, or sooner, if the means are furnished them. In the mean time it shall be lawful for them to reside upon any land not in the actual claim and occupation of citizens of the United States, and upon any land claimed or occupied, if with the pe-mission of the owner.

 

ARTICLE 5.

The right of taking fish at usual and accustomed grounds and stations is further secured to said Indians in common with all citizens of the Territory, and of erecting temporary houses for the purpose of curing, together with the privilege of hunting and gathering roots and berries on open and unclaimed lands. Provided, however, That they shall not take shell-fish from any beds staked or cultivated by citizens.

ARTICLE 6.

In consideration of the above cession, the United States agree to pay to the said tribes and bands the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, in the following manner – – that is to say: For the first year after the ratification hereof, fifteen thousand dollars; for the next two year, twelve thousand dollars each year; for the next three years, ten thousand dollars each year; for the next four years, seven thousand five hundred dollars each years; for the next five years, six thousand dollars each year; and for the last five years, four thousand two hundred and fifty dollars each year. All which said sums of money shall be applied to the use and benefit of the said Indians, under the direction of the President of the United States, who may, from time to time, determine at his discretion upon what beneficial objects to expend the same; and the superintendent of Indian affairs, or other proper officer, shall each year inform the President of the wishes of said Indians in respect thereto.

ARTICLE 7.

The President may hereafter, when in his opinion the interests of the Territory shall require and the welfare of the said Indians be promoted, remove them from either or all of the special reservations hereinbefore make to the said general reservation, or such other suitable place within said Territory as he may deem fit, on remunerating them for their improvements and the expenses of such removal, or may consolidate them with other friendly tribes or bands; and he may further at his discretion cause the whole or any portion of the lands hereby reserved, or of such other land as may be selected in lieu thereof, to be surveyed into lots, and assign the same to suc individuals or families as are willing to avail themselves of the privilege, and will locate on the same as a permanent home on the same terms and subject to the same regulations as are provided in the sixth article of the treaty with the Omahas, so far as the same may be applicable. Any substantial improvements heretofore made by any Indian, and which he shall be compelled to abandon in consequence of this treaty, shall be valued under the direction of the President and payment made accordingly therefor.

ARTICLE 8.

The annuities of the aforesaid tribes and bands shall not be taken to pay the debts of individuals.

ARTICLE 9.

The said tribes and bands acknowledge their dependence on the Government of the United States, and promise to be friendly with all citizens thereof, and they pledge themselves to commit no depredations on the property of such citizens. Should any one or more of them violate this pledge, and the fact be satisfactorily proven before the agent, the property taken shall be returned, or in default thereof, of if injured or destroyed, compensation may be made by the Government out of their annuities. Nor will they make war on any other tribe except in self-defence, but will submit all matters of difference between them and the other Indians to the Government of the United States or its agent for decision, and abide thereby. And if any of the said Indians commit depredations on other Indians within the Territory the same rule shall prevail as that prescribed in this article in cases of depredations against citizens. And the said tribes agree not to shelter or conceal offenders against the laws of the United States, but to deliver them up to the authorities for trial.

ARTICLE 10.

The above tribes and bands are desirous to exclude from their reservations the use of ardent spirits, and to prevent their people from drinking the same, and therefore it is provided that any Indian belonging to said tribe who is guilty of bringing liquor into said reservations, or who drinks liquor, may have his or her proportion of the annuities withheld from him or her for such time as the President may determine.

ARTICLE 11.

The said tribes and bands agree to free all slaves now held by them and not to purchase or acquire others hereafter.

ARTICLE 12.

The said tribes and bands further agree not to trade at Vancouver’s Island or elsewhere out of the dominions of the United States, nor shall foreign Indians be permitted to reside in their reservations without consent of the superintendent or agent.

ARTICLE 13.

To enable the said Indians to remove to and settle upon their aforesaid reservations, and to clear, fence, and break up a sufficient quantity of land for cultivation, the United States further agree to pay the sum of fifteen thousand dollars to be laid out and expended under the direction of the President and in such manner as he shall approve.

ARTICLE 14.

The United States further agree to establish at the general agency for the district of Puget’s Sound, within one year from the ratification hereof, and to support for a period of twenty years, an agricultural and industrial school, to be free to children of the said tribes and bands in common with those of the other tribes of said district, and to provide the said school with a suitable instructor or instructors, and also to provide a smithy and carpenter’s shop, and furnish them with the necessary tools, and employ a blacksmith, carpenter, and farmer for the like term of twenty years to instruct the Indians in their respective occupations. And the United States finally agree to employ a physician to reside at the said central agency, who shall furnish medicine and advice to their sick, and shall vaccinate them; the expenses of said school, shops, persons employed, and medical attendance to be defrayed by the United States, and not deducted from the annuities.

ARTICLE 15.

This treaty shall be obligatory on the contracting parties as soon as the same shall be ratified by the President and Senate of the United States.

In testimony whereof, the said Isaac I. Stevens, governor and superintendent of Indian affairs, and the undersigned chiefs, headmen, and delegates of the aforesaid tribes and bands of Indians, have hereunto set their hands and seals, at the place and on the day and year hereinbefore written.

Issac I. Stevens, Governor and Superintendent. (L.S.)

Seattle, Chief of the Dwamish and Suquamish tribes, his x mark. (L. S.)

Pat-ka-nam, Chief of the Snoqualmoo, Snohomish and other tribes, his x mark. (L.S.) Chow-its-hoot, Chief of the Lummi and other tribes, his x mark. (L. S.)

Goliah, Chief of the Skagits and other allied tribes, his x mark. (L.S.)

Kwallattum, or General Pierce, Sub-chief of the Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

S’hootst-hoot, Sub-chief of Snohomish, his x mark. (L.S.)

Snah-talc, or Bonaparte, Sub-chief of Snohomish, his x mark. (L.S.)

Squush-um, or The Smoke, Sub-chief of the Snoqualmoo, his x mark. (L.S.)

See-alla-pa-han, or The Priest, Sub-chief of Sk-tah-le-jum, his x mark. (L.S.)

He-uch-ka-nam, or George Bonaparte, Sub-chief of Snohomish, his x mark. (L.S.)

Tse-nah-talc, or Joseph Bonaparte, Sub-chief of Snohomish, his x mark. (L.S.)

Ns’ski-oos, or Jackson, Sub-chief of Snohomish, his x mark. (L.S.)

Wats-ka-lah-tchie, or John Hobtsthoot, Sub-chief of Snohomish, his x mark. (L.S.)

Smeh-mai-hu, Sub-chief of Skai-wha-mish, his x mark. (L.S.)

Slat-eah-ka-nam, Sub-chief of Snoqualmoo, his x mark. (L.S.)

St’hau-ai, Sub-chief of Snoqualmoo, his x mark. (L.S.)

Lugs-ken, Sub-chief of Skai-wha-mish, his x mark. (L.S.)

S’heht-soolt, or Peter, Sub-chief of Snohomish, his x mark. (L.S.)

Do-queh-oo-satl, Snoqualmoo tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

John Kanam, Snoqualmoo sub-chief, his x mark. (L.S.)

Klemsh-ka-nam, Snoqualmoo, his x mark. (L.S.)

Ts’huahntl, Dwa-mish sub-chief, his x mark. (L.S.)

Kwuss-ka-nam, or George Snatelum, Sen., Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Hel-mits, or George Snatelum, Skagit sub-chief, his x mark. (L.S.)

S’kwai-kwi, Skagit tribe, sub-chief, his x mark. (L.S.)

Seh-lek-qu, Sub-chief Lummi tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

S’h’-cheh-oos, or General Washington, Sub-chief of Lummi tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Whai-lan-hu, or Davy Crockett, Sub-chief of Lummi tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

She-ah-delt-hu, Sub-chief of Lummi tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Kwult-seh, Sub-chief of Lummi tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Kwull-et-hu, Lummi tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Kleh-kent-soot, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Sohn-heh-ovs, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

S’deh-ap-kan, or General Warren, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Chul-whil-tan, Sub-chief of Suquamish tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Ske-eh-tum, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Patchkanam, or Dome, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Sats-Kanam, Squin-ah-nush tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Sd-zo-mahtl, Kik-ial-lus band, his x mark. (L.S.)

Dahtl-de-min, Sub-chief of Sah-ku-meh-hu, his x mark. (L.S.)

Sd’zek-du-num, Me-sek-wi-guilse sub-chief, his x mark. (L.S.)

Now-a-chais, Sub-chief of Dwamish, his x mark. (L.S.)

Mis-lo-tche, or Wah-hehl-tchoo, Sub-chief of Suquamish, his x mark. (L.S.)

Sloo-noksh-tan, or Jim, Suquamish tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Moo-whah-lad-hu, or Jack, Suquamish tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Too-leh-plan, Suquamish tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Ha-seh-doo-an, or Keo-kuck, Dwamish tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Hoovilt-meh-tum, Sub-chief of Suquamish, his x mark. (L.S.)

We-ai-pah, Skaiwhamish tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

S’ah-an-hu, or Hallam, Snohomish tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

She-hope, or General Pierce, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Hwn-lah-lakq, or Thomas Jefferson, Lummi tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Cht-simpt, Lummi tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Tse-sum-ten, Lummi tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Klt-hahl-ten, Lummi tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Kut-ta-kanam, or John, Lummi tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Ch-lah-ben, Noo-qua-cha-mish band, his x mark. (L.S.)

Noo-heh-oos, Snoqualmoo tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Hweh-uk, Snoqualmoo tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Peh-nus, Skai-whamish tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Yim-ka-dam, Snoqualmoo tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Twooi-as-kut, Skaiwhamish tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Luch-al-kanam, Snoqualmoo tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

S’hoot-kanam, Snoqualmoo tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Sme-a-kanam, Snoqualmoo tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Sad-zis-keh, Snoqualmoo, his x mark. (L.S.)

Heh-mahl, Skaiwhamish band, his x mark. (L.S.)

Charley, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Sampson, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

John Taylor, Snohomish tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Hatch-kwentum, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Yo-i-kum, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

T’kwa-ma-han, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Sto-dum-kan, Swinamish band, his x mark. (L.S.)

Be-lole, Swinamish band, his x mark. (L.S.)

D’zo-lole-gwam-hu, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Steh-shail, William, Skaiwhamish band, his x mark. (L.S.)

Kel-kahl-tsoot, Swinamish tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Pat-sen, Skagit tribe, his x mark. (L.S.)

Pat-teh-us, Noo-wha-ah sub-chief, his x mark. (L.S.)

S’hoolk-ka-nam, Lummi sub-chief, his x mark. (L.S.)

Ch-lok-suts, Lummi sub-chief, his x mark. (L.S.)

Executed in the presence of us – –

M. T. Simmons, Indian agent.

C. H. Mason, Secretary of Washington Territory.

Benj. F. Shaw, Interpreter.

Chas. M. Hitchcock.

H. A. Goldsborough.

George Gibbs.

John H. Scranton.

Henry D. Cock.

S. S. Ford, jr.

Orrington Cushman.

Ellis Barnes.

R. S. Bailey.

S. M. Collins.

Lafayetee Balch.

E. S. Fowler.

J. H. Hall.

Rob’t Davis.

S. Doc. 319, 58-2, Vol 2 43

 

Ratified Mar. 8, 1859. Proclaimed Apr. 11, 1859.

 

 

 

 

Being Frank: Good Relationships Don’t Just Happen

By Billy Frank, Jr, Chairman, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

OLYMPIA – Good relationships don’t just happen. We have to work together to build and maintain a strong foundation of trust and commitment to keep a relationship healthy and strong.

As we mark the 40th anniversary of the Boldt decision this year, the tribal and state natural resources co-managers met recently to re-dedicate ourselves to the principles of co-management.

At the core of co-management is a pledge to seek cooperation first and avoid litigation. The approach is based on a government-to-government relationship that respects the decision-making authority of both the tribes and state. Its success depends on jointly planning and developing clear objectives with agreed-upon data to support consistent, coordinated natural resources management programs.

Trust and cooperation go hand in hand. In the first decade following the 1974 Boldt decision, the tribes and state did not trust each other as co-managers. We spent hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours arguing before a federal court about whose data was more accurate and whether this fishery or that fishery should be allowed at this place or time.

All that time and money spent in court was wasted. It could have been better spent protecting and rebuilding the resource.

After a difficult first decade, we found a way to work together built on mutual respect and consideration for each other’s needs. Co-management took giant steps forward.

In 1984 the tribes and state started the annual joint season-setting process called North of Falcon. In 1985 the tribes and state worked together to develop the Pacific Salmon Treaty that governs shared U.S. and Canadian salmon fisheries. In 1986 came the Timber/Fish/Wildlife Agreement that provided protection for fish and wildlife on private timberlands while also ensuring a healthy timber industry. Next came the 1989 Centennial Accord that further cemented the government-to-government relationship between the tribes and state.

All of these accomplishments clearly show the great things that can be done when we choose to work together. We can’t afford to lose that.

That doesn’t mean we agree on everything. We don’t. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can’t come to an agreement. The case of fish-blocking culverts is a good example.

After many months of negotiations failed, the tribes were forced as a last resort in 2001 to file a lawsuit against the state to fix fish-blocking culverts under state roads that closed access to hundreds of miles of good salmon habitat. The federal court agreed that culverts blocking fish passage violate tribal treaty fishing rights and gave the state 17 years to fix the problem.

While we are disappointed that the state has appealed the ruling, we will continue to work together for the health of the salmon and all of our natural resources. That’s because we know cooperation is the way forward. It always has been and always will be.

Tribal Fishery Opposes Washington Coal Terminal

Tribal treaty fishing rights give Washington tribes the opportunity to weigh in on, and even block, projects that could impact their fishing grounds.(Ashley Ahearn/KUOW Photo)

Tribal treaty fishing rights give Washington tribes the opportunity to weigh in on, and even block, projects that could impact their fishing grounds.(Ashley Ahearn/KUOW Photo)

December 11, 2013 Here&Now

About a quarter of all the coal the U.S. exports goes to Asian markets. To meet the demand, there are plans to build what would be the largest coal terminal in North America at a place called Cherry Point in the far northwestern corner of Washington state.

But there’s a hitch. The waters surrounding Cherry Point support a fishing industry worth millions of dollars. It’s also a sacred place for the Lummi tribe, whose reservation is nearby. And thanks to a landmark legal decision in the 1970s, tribes have the right to weigh in on — and even stop — projects that could affect their fishing grounds.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Ashley Ahearn of KUOW reports.

Reporter

Ashley Ahearn, environment reporter for KUOW and part of the regional multimedia collaborative project EarthFix.

 

Follow link to listen to Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

It’s HERE AND NOW.

Coal prices are at the highest levels in months thanks to strong demand from Asian markets like China. And to help meet that demand, there are plans to build a huge new coal terminal in Washington State, at a place called Cherry Point. But the waters surrounding Cherry Point support a fishing industry that’s worth millions of dollars, and it’s a sacred place for the Lummi tribe, which has the right to weigh in on or put a stop to projects that could affect their fishing grounds.

From the HERE AND NOW Contributors Network, KUOW’s Ashley Ahearn reports.

ASHLEY AHEARN, BYLINE: Jay Julius and his crew pull crab pots up out of the deep blue waters near Cherry Point. From massive buckets on deck comes the clack and rustle of delicious Dungeness crabs in futile attempts at escape. We’re about 15 miles south of the Canadian border.

JAY JULIUS COUNCILMEMBER, LUMMI TRIBAL COUNCIL: That’s not bad.

AHEARN: Jay Julius is a member of the Lummi tribal council. His ancestors have fished these waters, just like he does now, for thousands of years. One out of every 10 Lummi tribal members has a fishing license, and the Lummi tribal fishery is worth $15 million annually.

COUNCIL: So now we’re entering the proposed area for the coal port. As you can see, the buoys start.

AHEARN: Dozens upon dozens of crab pots buoys dot the waters around us, like a brightly colored obstacle course as we approach Cherry Point.

COUNCIL: We see buoys up there.

AHEARN: If the Gateway Pacific Terminal is built, it could draw more than 450 ships per year to take the coal to Asia. Those ships would travel through this area of Cherry Point. The tribe is worried that its shellfish, salmon and halibut fishery will suffer.

COUNCIL: What does that mean to our treaty right to fish? This will be no more.

AHEARN: That treaty right to fish could play a major role in the review process for the Gateway Pacific Terminal and the two other coal terminals under consideration in the Northwest. In the mid-1800s, tribes in this region signed treaties with the federal government, seeding millions of acres of their land. But the tribal leaders of the time did a very smart thing, says Tim Brewer. He’s a lawyer with the Tulalip tribe.

TIM BREWER: What they insisted on was reserving the right to continue to fish in their usual and accustomed fishing areas. Extremely important part of the treaty.

AHEARN: Those treaty rights weren’t enforced in Washington until a momentous court decision in 1970s known as the Boldt Decision. It forced the state to follow up on the treaty promise of fishing rights that were made to the tribes more than a century before. Brewer says the phrase, usual and accustomed fishing areas, has implications for development projects, like coal terminals.

BREWER: If a project is going to impair access to a fishing ground and that impairment is significant, that project cannot move forward without violating the treaty right.

AHEARN: And in recent decades, tribes have flexed to those treaty muscles. The Lummi stopped a fish farm that was planned for the water’s off of Lummi island in the mid-’90s. The tribe argued that constructing the floating net pens would block tribal access to their usual and accustomed fishing grounds.

BREWER: And in that case, the Corps of Engineers denied that permit on that basis. There was no agreement that was bled to be worked out there.

AHEARN: But in other situations, agreements had been made.

DWIGHT JONES: My name is Dwight Jones. We’re at L.A. Bay Marina.

AHEARN: Jones is the general manager of the marina. Behind where he’s standing, Seattle’s Space Needle pierces the downtown skyline in the distance.

JONES: L.A. Bay Marina is the largest privately owned and operated marina on the West Coast. We have about 1,250 slips.

AHEARN: The marina was built in 1991 after a decade of environmental review and haggling with the Muckleshoot tribe. The marina is within the tribe’s treaty fishing area.

JONES: It was contentious, I guess, would be the right word.

AHEARN: Could they have stopped this project from being built?

JONES: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely they could’ve stopped it.

AHEARN: But they didn’t. Instead, the tribe negotiated a settlement. The owners of L.A. Bay Marina paid the Muckleshoot more than a million dollars upfront. And for the next hundred years, they will give the tribe eight percent of their gross annual revenue.

JONES: Anybody in business can tell you that eight percent of your gross revenue is a huge number. It really affects your viability as a business, so…

AHEARN: What would you say to companies that are trying to build a coal terminal?

(LAUGHTER)

JONES: I’d say good luck. It’s a long road, and there will be a lot of cost and the chances are, the tribes will make it – will probably negotiate a settlement that works well for them and will be – not be cheap.

AHEARN: SSA Marine and Pacific International Terminals, the companies that want to build the terminal at Cherry Point, have lawyers and staff members trying to negotiate a deal with the Lummi. But Jay Julias, a Lummi councilmember, laughs when I asked him how he feels about the company’s efforts to make inroads with the tribe.

COUNCIL: I say they’re funny, but I think they’re quite disgusting. The way they’re trying to infiltrate our nation, contaminate it, use people – it’s nothing new.

AHEARN: SSA Marine declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this story. But they emailed a statement. It says: We sincerely respect the Lummi way of life and the importance of fishing to the tribe. We continue to believe we can come to an understanding with the Lummi nation regarding the Gateway Pacific Terminal project. For HERE AND NOW, I’m Ashley Ahearn in Seattle. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.