1965 – An Indian’s View on Fishing Rights

Editor, The Times: I am writing concerning Indian fishing rights. I would like to say this about our fishing disagreement with the State of Washington:

  1. The Mukilteo Treaty of 1855 gave us the right to fish in or on out accustomed fishing grounds.
  2. This treaty was made by the United States government and is a law of the land.

With these points in mind I can’t help but wonder at the way the State of Washington is handling the situation. The state had made thousands of laws to protect people on their property but these laws do not apply to a ward of the government.

Our federal government promised it would protect is as long as the sun rose in the East and set in the West. In return my people ceded to the United States government what is now the State of Washington.

This treaty was one my people did not write. It was dictated to them by men they believed were dealing honestly with them.

In their own ways, their knowledge and culture, my people were without equal. They managed to survive for thousands of years before the coming of the white man. They loved their way of living; they loved their land as the people who now proclaim to own it have learned to love the land of my people.

No one can realize the millions of dollars worth of natural resources that once belonged to our Indian people; yet today they are denied a meager living from fishing rights that were guaranteed by the United States government.

Before the coming of the white man our streams were filled with salmon that never were in danger of extinction. The Indian took only what he needed to survive and the creeks were always open to the spawning grounds and not blocked by logging operations.

The Indians did not pollute the waters; they did not fish as sportsmen, but only to survive. The catch of the modern-day sportsman exceeds the catch of the Indian. The white man knows no boundaries in his quest for salmon.

The Indian knows these things and is trying to protect one of the law rights that we, the native people of America, have left.

It is time that the United States government stood by promises made to my people in 1855.

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