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White Society Depletes Salmon, Blames Indians
When and if the salmon reach their destination and maturity, they start their long, perilous journey home. As the salmon leave their comparatively safe refuge under the Arctic icecap, the first danger they encounter is the never-ending maze of international fishing nets. The big commercial fishing nations are the United States, the Soviet Union, Canada, Japan, and Norway. What salmon survive to reach Puget Sound waters are followed by the Americans who take another large number of them. The salmon, tired and hungry, are unfair prey for the baited hooks of sportsmen, whose boats literally blot out the waters of Puget Sound.
Finally, the survivors reach the mouth of their native river, where they become rejuvenated by the fresh water. (Indians say that they become like intoxicated people, full of fight and power.) The salmon's instincts and perceptions are sharpened - - an Indian fishnet does not last for long, for in the salmon's fight for survival they can easily break the strongest net, and those that follow go through the holes. The salmon travel a roadway in the rivers, which of course cannot be seen; yet if the Indians cannot find this roadway they cannot catch even one fish. It is a hard struggle for the majority of Indian fishermen to earn a decent living at their much-loved occupation. The few fish that survive to reach the Indians, fishing stations are either too strong to be caught, or too puny (colloquially, the condition of salmon weakened, battered and emaciated from their journey, as they near the spawning grounds where their lives will end - - editors note) to sell for food fish. It is indeed a struggle for survival for both the salmon and the American Indians.
Nevertheless, it is a fact that the Indian people have never been despoilers of nature; they are the first and original conservationists. They have never contended that there is no need for stringent conservation laws, for they realize that non-Indians do not seem to understand the need to obey Nature's conservation laws. As the Washington Fisheries Department is under the control of the large fishing industries and the Washington Game Department is under the control of the large, politically-minded sportsmen's clubs, the Indians have a just fear of being placed under their control. For it would in no way assure. the survival of the salmon - - all it would accomplish is the destruction of the Indian fishing industry, which has been in active existence for 800 known years.
On November 9th, Mrs. Chester Satiacum was given a thirty-day suspended sentence for illegal fishing. She did not have funds for an attorney and had to speak for herself. Attorneys are hard to find who will take the Indians' fishing battle, because too much pressure is brought on them by the state.
On December 7th the Survival of American Indians Association secured the services of Mr. Jack Tanner to represent them in court. Sisters-in-law Clara and Susan Satiacum (wives of Chester and Bob Satiacum) were found guilty of a series of charges stemming from a wild boat ride on the Puyallup River on September 21st. The two young Indian women had led eighteen Tacoma police on a frenzied race, for an hour and a half, up and down the river before they were finally cornered and arrested - - and roughed up by the police. Susan wore the marks from the handcuffs for a long time. The judge sentenced them to sixty days and thirty days, respectively. Mr. Tanner immediately gave notice of appeal and they were released on bond.
On January 29th, the angry and embittered Indians held a night rally at Frank's Landing. It was really more of a war party. This time over two hundred Indians attended, and about fifty non-Indians, though the weather' was rainy and cold. Indian leaders from all over the state spoke over a loudspeaker and protested the Gestapo actions of Governor Dan Evans' departments. This all took place. around a huge bonfire -- the light from the fire could be seen for miles. A large party of Indian war dancers came from the Yakima tribe, led by Alex Wesley. Don Matheson introduced the speakers, who included Bob Satiacum of the Puyallup tribe, Janet McCloud, of the Tulalip, Frank Allen of the Stillaguamish, and many more. Satiacum likened Evans to Hitler and his methods used against the Jewish people. Mrs. McCloud told the crowd that they intended to burn Governor Evans in effigy because of the way "He unleashed the police power of this state to come down on us like a bunch of mad dogs". The climax of the demonstration came when the Yakima did an authentic war dance around the fire and two young Indian girls threw a life-size effigy of Governor Evans Into the flames, while the Indians cheered and emitted war whoops. Reporters and cameramen had turned out in large numbers to cover the event. An Indian leader
told a reporter that '"This state is the Mississippi of the West" for the Indian people. State men were observed walking. around with walkie-talkies and a large force was seen across the river. The Indian leaders did not want to be accused of another massacre, so they ignored their presence.
The next day Governor Evans branded Dick Gregory's participation as "just another publicity stunt".
Meanwhile Gregory sent for his wife Lillian, who came west to join her husband. Soon they were both in jail. Although they could have bailed out after entering their plea of not guilty to the charge of illegal net fishing, they both remained in jail to publicize the case.
On February 17th, Dick Gregory bailed out of jail in order to join Janet McCloud, Bob Satiacum, Frank Wright, Puyallup tribal chairman, and the state's man Robert Lasseter, fisheries warden, at a nearby Catholic college in a discussion about the fishing controversy. Gregory stated that he intended to sue the state for false arrest. Mrs. McCloud denounced Evans' charge that Gregory was seeking publicity: "All Dick Gregory is doing is casting a spotlight upon a problem that's been here for over a hundred years, and it's well known that people who do dark deeds don't like light cast upon them". Bob Satiacum bitterly denounced the whole history of Indian and white relations and concluded by stating that "almost every word that the state puts out is a lie". Some students booed this, but it's a historical fact nevertheless. While all the Nisquallies were at the campus, the state made a raid and took the fishing nets from the river.
March 1, 1966, four Indians refused to show up in Tacoma Superior Court to show cause why they should not be held in contempt of court for violating the fishing injunction. In these rigged show-cause cases the Indians are not allowed a jury trial. Judge John Cochran issued arrest warrants for Alvin Bridges, Herman Johns, Jr., and Louis and Leonard Squally.
It reminded one local writer of Irish rebel days, when someone on the run was described as "a man on his own keen" - - meaning that the English were hunting him. A strong strain of Irish and Scotch blood is present in the Washington Indians, the legacy if early fur traders, so the allusion to the moors and bogs of Eire is not so farfetched. Only now their descendants are in hiding along the thickly forested streams and hills of the Nisqually reservation. However, both areas are extremely wet and cold.
While Mrs. Gregory was sitting it out in jail the Indians held a protest march which started in front of the Justice Building at the capitol grounds and proceeded to the jail, where they took up flowers and candy to Mrs. Gregory in appreciation of her efforts. From there the marchers went to Governor Evans' mansion to protest his persecution of them. The governor didn't show his face, but he had a large force of his special unit there and they were very nervous. Again only a small group showed up to participate in the protest march.
Now the Muckleshoot tribe said that they intended to have a fish-in on the Green River. They also have a fishing injunction against them; in fact, they were the first tribe to be hit. They asked Dick Gregory to join them, and he accepted. It was decided by both the Muckleshoots and the Nisqually Indians that they would have two fish-ins on the same day, the first to be held on the Nisqually at nine in the morning and the second on the Green at one in the afternoon. The press was not informed until an hour before the first fish-in, so at the Nisqually only ten people and two newsmen showed up. Dick Gregory had decided to fish in both of the demonstrations. When the wardens saw how small the Nisqually force was: they moved in oil the Indians in large numbers. Edith and Janet McCloud, sisters-in-law, tried to order the wardens off the Federal land, when the wardens came in to arrest Gregory. A pushing match started and the two women were arrested and again charged with interfering with a police officer in the performance of his duties. They entered a plea of not guilty, and their case was set over for a jury trial. Gregory was charged with illegal net fishing, and all three stayed in jail on a hunger strike.
Meanwhile, on the Green, the Muckleshoot had a large turnout of Indian and non-Indian spectators, about three hundred people in all. When the large force of game wardens descended on the Green River fish-in and started to rough upa young Indian girl, the assembled Indians promptly turned on them and stoned them - men, cars, and everything in sight. The wardens left the scene and made no on-the-spot arrests. Later four Indians who had gone fishing were arrested and their bail was set at $1,000 each. Their attorney refused to have anything to do with them; the Survival of American Indians Association went good for their bail bonds. And the American Civil Liberties Union finally took a stand for the Indians and provided an attorney to represent the four Muckleshoots. Mr. Bill Hansen, attorney, promptly Filed a suit of prejudice against the judge who issued the arrest warrants, and it was granted. The Indians have been victims of political-minded judges since this state was formed and it's about time attorneys took a direct stand against this discrimination with a legal cloak.
The Indians have relied largely upon their fish-in demonstrations as their direct action program, as the few marches they have staged have been unsuccessful for lack of support by the public or by the Indians themselves. The main reason for the Indians' reluctance to march is that many people tend to lump the Negro problem and the Indian problem into one barrel when both use the same tactics. Indians want the disinction understood: the Indians are dead set against assimilation into the white society, contrary to the Negroes who appear to welcome assimilation. It must also be remembered that the Indian people are large property owners, and most of their problems come from the illegal attempt of the whites to take the Indians' property - - against his will.
The State's confiscation of thousands of dollars worth of fishing gear (allegedly for future court evidence) was done as an economic blow to the Indians because of their resistance to the State's injunctions. It is hard for these people to replace the hand-dug-out canoes, boats, outboard motors, and fishing nets, which have either been handed down from their fathers or bought with their life's earnings. In fact, the dugout canoes are irreplaceable. These confiscations are just a way to beat the Indians down, identical to the policy of shooting the buffalo in an earlier time.
The hostile attitude against the Indian people by a large percentage of the general public is reflected by statement made to the Indians by judges of Washington courts.
Judge Jacques, Pierce County Superior Court, who over two years ago issued an injunction against the Nisquallies, told the Indians, "They never meant for you people to be free like everyone else".
Pierce County Assistant Prosecutor Harmon in Justice Court said, "We had the power and force to exterminate these people from the face of the earth, instead of making treaties with them. Perhaps we should have. We certainly wouldn't be having all this trouble with them today."
Federal District Judge Boldt told one Indian tribe's attorney, who was seeking a writ of prohibition against the State, "I don't want to hear any more about these damn Indian fishing cases
While Governor Evans tries to deny that any racial undertones are present in his actions against the Indians) the fact remains that within the past two years about one hundred Indians have been arrested and many of them have been denied jury trials. On the Nisqually River where the greatest resistance has been put up, all the arrested Indians' fishing gear has been confiscated. There have been no court hearings on the taken gear as required by law. The few attorneys who are brave enough to take the Indians' cases have been harassed and intimidated by state officials and sportsmen's groups. Moving pictures of a few Indians net fishing are shown to clubs' across the state to stir up the public against the Indians. For example, in Concrete Washington, where the Skagit Indians fish, the State used these tactics so well that the mayor of the town led a mob to the river, saying, "Let's get those god-damned Indian nets out of the river." And in a small town near the Makah Indian reservation, after the State showed its hate-the-Indians" pictures another mob gathered to demand that all the Indians be run off the rivers.
Of course, not all the Indians are agreed on the methods being used to fight the State of Washington. A few of the tribal council leaders, who are strongly influenced by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, criticize all the demonstrations held by their brothers. These Indian tribal councils generally occupy the same role that the paramount Chiefs and their councils did in colonial Africa, that of stooging for the whites against their own people. The fighting Indians call them "Uncle Tomahawks" (the Indian equivalent of "Uncle Torn").
The Yakima Indians, like the Nisquallies, are also divided over the issue of treaty fishing rights. The controversy within the tribe is simple enough - those who are ready to fight, and the Uncle Tomahawks who would rather switch. The group spearheading, the fight formed the "Five Man Fish Commission of the Yakima Nation." (Fourteen tribes, the Yakima among them, compose the Yakitna Nation.) The Nation is actually the superior power, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs, having found it not willing to sign away its people's rights managed through illegal chicanery to set up the Yakima tribe as the superior power. This has caused much suffering for the Indian people, who are unable to stop the sale of their land to whites or to prevent tile corrupt Uncle Tomahawks from wasting the tribal funds. The tribe picks and chooses whom it will protect in legal fights, including actions to defend the tribal fishing right. Since its formation the Five Man Fish Commission has actively campaigned for honest Indians on the Tribal Council and backed them up when they get into office. Last year the Commission managed to get three Indians elected to the fourteen-man council. Needless to say, the Bureau of Indian Affairs uses every method to hinder its activity
At the camp site, other Indians were awakened by the sounds of running feet and barking dogs, and ran to the beach to see what was happening. What they saw churned their fighting Indian blood - game and fishies wardens armed with high-powered semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and seven-celled flashlights had invaded their fishing site. The Indians asked to see the wardens' required federal permission permit - none was produced. They asked to see the wardens' credentials, as many of them were in plain clothes - again, none was shown.
By this time the boats had reached shore. The Indian boat was owned by Madeline Alexander Weeks, who testified later that. she had loaned it to her brother. When it touched the dock, she waded out to secure it, wrapped its towline around her waist and was pulling it to shore when she was jumped by a game warden, Gene Whitten. A diminutive woman, she fought a gallant fight to protect her property - but Whittem had a knife. He slashed the rope around her waist, cutting her and her coat. Other Indians were to testify to equally harrowing experiences in this terrorist pre-dawn raid.
Brought into Skaniania County Court on illegal fishing charges, the Indians faced the usual prejudiced judge and jury, and were found guilty In a few short minutes.