Treaty Rights at Risk in the Seattle Times

Last summer Billy Frank Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, wrote an opinion piece about the Treaty Rights at Risk Initiative. He explained that the tribes are fighting to save salmon and their treaty rights:

Salmon recovery is failing in Western Washington. It’s failing because the federal and state governments are allowing habitat to be destroyed faster than it can be restored.

As the salmon disappear, our tribal cultures, communities and economies are threatened as never before. Our fishing rights have been made almost meaningless. Some of our tribes have lost even their most basic ceremonial and subsistence fisheries — the cornerstone of tribal life.

The failure of salmon recovery is the failure of the federal government to meet its trust responsibility to protect the treaty-reserved rights of tribes. That’s why we are calling for the federal government to assume control and responsibility for implementing salmon recovery in Western Washington.

You can read Chairman Frank’s entire piece here.

Last month, Lance Dickie at the Times followed up with a editorial on accountability, including the tribes’ efforts:

Another voice asking who is in charge is Billy Frank, chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. He wants the feds to step in and enforce Indian treaty fishing rights.

Frank sees treaty-reserved rights to harvest salmon disappearing along with diminishing salmon populations due to a loss of habitat. No one is in charge of salmon recovery, in Frank’s blunt assessment.

Twenty tribes organized a Treaty Rights at Risk campaign last August. They see unabated pollution of Puget Sound, with little or no enforcement of water quality, zoning and development rules.

In light of what Frank described in an interview this week as a failure by the state, he wants the federal government directly involved.

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