Former Rep. Metcalf, treaty rights opponent, dies

Former Rep. Bob Metcalf (R-Washington), an opponent of treaty rights and of the Makah Nation's whale hunt, died on Thursday from complications related to Alzheimer's disease. He was 79.

As a member of Congress, Metcalf joined a lawsuit that sought to shut down the hunt. He argued that the tribe's 1855 treaty did not preserve the right to whaling.

"Mr. Speaker, the day we have all dreaded has arrived. After years of U.S. policy in opposition to commercial whaling, the Clinton-Gore administration is reopening whaling. This is a tragic day, and we will regret that this has happened," he said on the House floor on May 11, 1999, the day the tribe resumed its hunt.

As a hunter, Metcalf also opposed the treaty, hunting and fishing rights of other tribes. During the 1970s, he formed S/SPAWN, the Steelhead and Salmon Protection Action in Washington Now, to fight tribal fishermen.

S/SPAWN later became known as UPOW, the United Property Owners of Washington, which continues to oppose tribal rights on behalf of non-Indian landowners in the state. According to Arthur J. Miller, an Indian rights advocate, Metcalf sat on the group's board before entering Congress in 1995.

Metcalf retired in 2001 but continued the battle against the Makah Nation. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled that Congress abrogated the tribe's treaty by requiring the tribe to seek a permit to hunt whales.

Get the Story:
Retired Rep. Jack Metcalf was also fisherman, teacher (The Seattle Times 3/16)
Former U.S. Rep. Metcalf dies at 79 (AP 3/15)

Relevant Links:
Makah Nation -

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