Indians Seeing Red Over River Arrests
January 11, 1962
by J.C. Walker
A new installment in the week’s collection of Thurston County Indian incidents Thursday began to take on the hue of a Hollywood melodrama. One more Indian was arrested Wednesday, making it a full half-dozen charged since the Game Department began its round of fish raids last week end. And it was reported the U.S. Army had taken a hand in keeping fish-catching Nisqually tribesmen off the Pierce County side of the boundary Nisqually River. This is flatly denied by the Army. It was Jack Simmons who was collected by Game Department agents Wednesday as he sat beside a riverbank landing with a load of fish. Agents served Simmons with a Pierce County Superior Court warrant charging him with operating a set net capable of taking game fish. Simmons later posted $100 bail in Tacoma and was released pending a hearing. Nisqually tribesmen Thursday were incensed, a feeling they’ve had all week. They say Simmons was doing nothing more than following his customary fishing rights Ð just like the five other Indians arrested last week end on similar charges. The Game Department holds a different viewpoint. Walter Neubrech, chief enforcement officer, said his men have amassed enough evidence over the last three weeks to sustain charge that Simmons caught steelhead along with dog salmon. Since steelhead is a game fish, the Game Department is concerned. As for Wednesday’s alleged incident involving the Army, no arrests were made, no arrests were contemplated, and the Army doesn’t want to get involved. The excitement apparently started when a retired lieutenant colonel, himself an angler, hitched a ride with an MP jeep along the river. The jeep was stopped by an Indian fisherman, who was looking for two nets reportedly cast adrift. The Army, knowing nothing, shrugged its shoulders, then drove on. As far as the military is concerned, treaty rights for fishing are respected unless Indians happen to wander into an area dangerous to life and limb. This is the only time they are stopped. Despite the trouble over arrests, the Nisqually Indians are sticking to their guns in maintaining they have a right to fish where they always have angled for the big, sea-run food fish nosing up the turgid waters of the Nisqually.