Lummi, S’Klallam Nations In Court Over 30-year-long Dispute Over Fishing Territory – Indian Country Today

People who don’t have any experience with Tribes often think of the world of Native Americans as some kind of monolithic organization. I hear them say, “Oh the Indians take all the fish” or words to that affect. The story that is closer to the truth is illustrated quite well with this article. The Tribes are more like a coalition of peoples, and they have their own disputes, such as this one, over what constitutes the usual and accustomed locations that their ancestors fished. It’s not academic. There is real economic and cultural issues at stake, And to be clear, the Boldt Decision, which is the center of all this, gave the Tribes, all of them, 50% of the catch per season. Not every Tribe gets 50%, most get far less, but it’s up to the State, and representatives of all the Tribes to hash that out. Non Tribal sportsfishermen and commerical fishermen get to work with the State to determine how much we get of that remaining 50%.

The Lummi and S’Klallams were among the Indigenous Peoples who fished a vast inland sea off northwest Washington, bounded by Haro Strait to the west, Rosario Strait to the east, Georgia Strait to the north, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound to the south. In the middle are the San Juan Islands, which the Lummi believe is their place of origin. To the south is the Olympic Peninsula, the place of origin of the Elwha, Jamestown and Port Gamble S’Klallam peoples…. Both sides are in U.S. District Court, in their third decade of legal battles to determine who has the treaty right to fish those waters. District and appellate court decisions have seesawed in favor of the S’Klallams and the Lummi Nation. Richard Walker reports. (Indian Country Today)

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