Swinomish Tribe faces racist and violent threats due to fishing

Paddlers head ashore at the Swinomish Reservation in Washington. Photo from Swinomish Fish and Game Enforcement / Facebook

Anti-Indian sentiments are once again surfacing in Washington as fishermen clash with tribes over their treaty-protected rights.

The Swinomish Tribe was targeted with a protest earlier this month that was reminiscent of the fishing wars of the 1960s and the 1970s, the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights noted. The battle is also raging online -- some non-Indians are resorting to racist comments and even threats of violence.

“Shoot the Boats," one person wrote on Facebook in a series of posts collected by the Institute. "Maybe we can trade them some small pox blankets for a few weeks fishing," said another.

The Swinomish Fish and Game Enforcement posted a thank-you message on Facebook after non-Indians protested the tribe's fishing practices.

The dispute stems from the closures of several fisheries in the Puget Sound region. The state had to shut them down after failing to reach an agreement with the tribes, who are entitled to half of the catch under the United States v. Washington court case.

Other areas remain open, the state said, but non-Indians are blaming tribes for the situation. The closures affect salmon and other fish protected under the Endangered Species Act, The Skagit Valley Herald reported.

The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission has been warning of low salmon runs for years. The tribes are submitting their own management plan to the federal government after talks with the state failed.

Get the Story:
Bigotry, Calls for Violence, Follow Protest of Tribal Treaty Fishing (Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights 5/13)
Swinomish celebrate start of salmon season (The Skagit Valley Herald 5/13)
State fishery submits proposal back to tribes hopefully ending stalemate on setting salmon seasons (The Seattle Times 5/11)
Sport fishermen protest Swinomish tribal fishing (KING 5 News 5/4)
Sport fishermen protest ‘broken’ program as tribe gillnets chinook (The Seattle Times 5/4)
Sport fishermen protesting in La Conner on Wednesday as tribal gill-net salmon fishery gets underway (The Seattle Times 5/4)
Fishermen protest tribal fishery as Puget Sound closure begins (The Skagit Valley Herald 5/4)

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