Law | National | Politics

NWIFC schedules briefing on 'Treaty Rights 101' on Capitol Hill

Lorraine Loomis, the new chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. Photo from NWIFC

The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission will host a briefing on treaty rights on Capitol Hill next week.

The NWIFC plans to educate Congressional staff about treaties between tribes and the United States. The group's newly elected leader said the centuries-old agreements are under constant threat.

“Our treaty rights are at serious risk today,” NWIFC Chair Lorraine Loomis, a member of the Swinomish Tribe of Washington, said in a press release. “Salmon recovery is failing in western Washington because salmon habitat is disappearing faster than it can be restored. If there are no salmon available for harvest, our treaty rights mean nothing."

"We are looking to the federal government, as our trustee, to take a more active role in salmon recovery and lead a more coordinated salmon recovery effort," Loomis, 72, added.

Loomis succeeds the late Billy Frank Jr., who led NWIFC for more than 30 years until his death on May 5. He was internationally recognized as a champion and expert on treaty rights.

“No one can ever replace Billy," Loomis said. "It will take all of us to carry on his work."

Next week's briefing, which takes place on Wednesday, September 24, from 12pm-1:15pm in Room 2456 of the Rayburn House Office Building, comes at an opportune time in the nation's capital. The National Museum of the American Indian held a symposium on treaties today and several participants paid tribute to Frank and his lifelong cause.

NMAI is also debuting an new exhibit, entitled Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations, on Sunday.

Related Stories:
NMAI hosts symposium on treaties to coincide with new exhibit (9/16)

Join the Conversation