, 2023-01-05 07:02:20,
How the fight began
As Native families on the river struggled to make a living, they watched non-Native commercial fishing crews harvest salmon in great numbers. Inspired by the civil rights movement, they set out to assert their rights.
Native Americans fished without state permission as acts of civil disobedience, They challenged state laws in court. They held “fish-ins” as public protests. In one famous incident, actor Marlon Brando was arrested for protesting with Puget Sound tribes.
Some made headlines and landed in jail — reviled at the time, mostly by white sport fishers, as troublemakers. David Sohappy of the Yakama Nation was imprisoned. Billy Frank Jr. of the Nisqually Indian Tribe and Janet McCloud of the Tulalip Tribes were arrested several times. Frank, Sohappy, McCloud and others would come to be regarded beyond Indian Country as civil rights pioneers.
April 1966, spring chinook season
Yearly catch: 294,000 pounds
On April 26, 1966, the headline of the morning Oregonian read, “Rifle-Toting Indians Go Fishing.”
Below it was a photo of a Native man, smiling with a 16-pound spring chinook salmon, while his friend stood guard, one-handing a rifle pointed into the air.
They didn’t have state permits to fish, and they’d been getting harassed by non-Natives at the river and targeted by police. But they didn’t need state permission to fish, they said. They’d had the right since time immemorial, and the treaties said so.
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