Environment | National

PBS: Tribes in Pacific Northwest facing a future without salmon

"Billy Frank, Jr. was 14 the first time he was arrested for fishing.

It was 1945, and he was on the Nisqually River in Washington state. Frank and other members of Washington's Nisqually tribe were holding "fish-ins" as part of a civil disobedience campaign, protesting the violation of fishing rights guaranteed to them by treaties between the federal government and Washington tribes. Commercial fishermen were catching salmon by the millions of tons while the state attempted to limit Native American fishing.

In the decades that followed, Frank would be jailed more than 50 times.

The battle eventually lead to Judge George Boldt's historic 1974 ruling, which reaffirmed the rights of tribal members to fish, hunt and harvest shellfish on their native land and allocated half of the state's annual catch to tribes.

That landmark decision ensured that Native Americans in Washington state would be allowed to harvest salmon for generations to come. But overfishing, loss of habitat and hydro-electric dams have depleted salmon populations throughout the Northwest. Five populations of Pacific salmon have been listed as endangered and 23 as threatened under the Endangered Species Act."

Get the Story:
Northwest 'Salmon People' Face Future Without Fish (PBS 7/18)

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