As noted on the Jamestown S’Klallam website, “Hunting, fishing and gathering were some of the rights reserved by Northwest Tribes that signed treaties with the United States in the 1850’s…Reserved rights under the treaties are classified as property rights by the federal courts.”
On August 17, 2017, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging a lower court ruling in favor of restoring salmon spawning streams. In response to this news, Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians, made the following remark:
“We haven’t seen an attack on tribal treaty rights like this by the State of Washington in a very long time… [Attorney General] Ferguson has gone out of his way to attempt to undermine our treaties and our way of life…We will fight him with all the strength we have.”
In an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of tribal sovereignty and cultural resource protection, the Seattle Times editorial board, in its August 25, 2017 op-ed, conflates treaty fishing rights of Northwest Indians with undue political influence. Rather than acknowledge the jurisdictional interest pertaining to land and water use affecting salmon reproduction–retained by the tribes in the treaties with the US–the Times board recklessly adopts the anti-Indian position promoted by former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, himself known for his inflammatory, racist remarks.
In Drumming Up Resentment: The Anti-Indian Movement in Montana, a special report published by Montana Human Rights Network in 2000, author Ken Toole made the following remarks:
“The context in which most people place words like racism, prejudice, and discrimination is the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In that context, an oppressed minority, African Americans, sought inclusion, a piece of the pie, equal opportunity and integration.
The struggle for civil rights in Indian country is different. It rests more on sovereignty and autonomy than on inclusion and integration. The legal framework created by the civil rights activists of the 1950s and 1960s sought to secure equal treatment within existing institutions and law. Indian rights activists, by and large, seek recognition of their right to develop their own law. Basically, they seek recognition of a right to self-determination. This difference is confusing and gives the anti-Indian movement an advantage in the rhetorical arena.
Taken at face value, the anti-Indian movement is a systematic effort to deny legally established rights to a group of people who are identified on the basis of their shared culture, history, religion and tradition. That makes it racist by definition.”
In Trampling on the Treaties: Rob McKenna and the Politics of Anti-Indianism, a 2012 report by Chuck Tanner and Leah Henry-Tanner, the authors examined Washington gubernatorial candidate McKenna via his career as a public official opposed to treaty rights, as well as his working relationship with Anti-Indian activists and organizations. As the Tanners note:
“McKenna’s Anti-Indian policies and ideas, and his willingness to ally his public office with opponents of tribal rights, should raise a large red flag for all people in Washington state who support respectful relations with Indian Nations.”
The Tanners observed that as Washington Attorney General, McKenna’s legal briefs “provide a political framework for backlash against Indian Nations”…His actions as Attorney General, “point to a pattern of disrespect for the basic rights of indigenous nations”…When McKenna perceives a state interest at issue, “he will oppose the fundamental rights of Indian Nations and ally with anti-Indian activists to achieve his goals”.
Likewise, apparently, the current Washington Attorney General, Bob Ferguson.
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