Billy Frank: Let's win salmon recovery battle in Washington

"We are losing the battle for salmon recovery in western Washington because salmon habitat is being destroyed faster than it can be restored. Despite massive cuts in harvest, careful use of hatcheries and a huge financial investment in restoration during the past four decades, salmon continue to decline along with their habitat. As the salmon disappear, so do our tribal cultures and treaty rights. We are at a crossroads, and we are running out of time.

That’s why we are asking the federal government to come to align its agencies and programs, and lead a more coordinated salmon recovery effort. We want the United States to take charge of salmon recovery because it has the obligation and authority to ensure both salmon recovery and protection of tribal treaty rights. That responsibility is alive today, just like the treaties.

We held up our end of the bargain when we ceded most of the land in western Washington to the U.S. government through the treaties of 1854-55. In those treaties, we retained certain rights for ourselves, such as the right to harvest salmon in our traditional fishing places as we have always done. But those rights are meaningless if the salmon disappear. Already some of our tribes have lost even their most basic ceremonial and subsistence fisheries, the cornerstone of tribal life."

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Billy Frank Jr.: We Need to Win the Battle for Salmon Recovery (Indian Country Today 2/9)

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