Billy Frank Jr., known for his decades of defending Washington tribes’ treaty rights, fears the rights will be worthless as overfishing, dams and climate change take their toll on the habitats salmon need to survive. Photo taken in August 2012.
Billy Frank Jr. helped secure Indian fishing rights through protest and legal action in the 1960s and '70s. The 83-year-old Nisqually tribe member has been arrested about 50 times over the years; the first time was in 1945 when he was 14, for fishing.
This weekend’s tribal council election on the Nooksack reservation near Bellingham leaves an uncertain future for hundreds of its members. The tribe has sought to remove about 15 percent of its people in what would be the largest tribal disenrollment in Washington state’s history.
This Thursday, three Native American tribes are changing how they administer justice.
For almost four decades, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling has barred tribes from prosecuting non-American Indian defendants. But as part of last year's re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a new program now allows tribes to try some non-Indian defendants in domestic abuse cases.
Ross Reynolds talks with Tulalip Tribe Chairman Mel Sheldon about a federal pilot program that will allow the Tulalip Tribe to prosecute non-tribal members who are accused of domestic violence on the reservation.
Musician Clarence Clearwater, like so many Navajos, has moved off the reservation for work. He performs on the Grand Canyon Railway, the lone Indian among dozens of cowboys and train robbers entertaining tourists.
"I always tell people I'm there to temper the cowboys," says Clearwater. "I'm there to give people the knowledge that there was more of the West than just cowboys."
Back in the 1850s, the United States negotiated a series of five treaties with the coastal tribes living in what is now Washington state. The treaties secured a majority of the land for the state and broke the tribes up into reservations. But of less interest to early white settlers were water rights. Native Americans kept their right to fish along coastal waters. However, over the decades those rights have been disputed.
The Salish Sea is a network of waterways that run from northwestern Washington to British Columbia. The waters of the Salish Sea are home to some of the richest marine life on the planet. The Lummi Tribe of Northern Washington rely on the abundance of these waters, but the fish have been in decline for the last century and a half.