United States Department of Justice sues the state of Washington over treaty fishing rights on September 18, 1970.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 8/25/2000
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 2626
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On September 18, 1970, the U.S. Department of Justice under President Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) files suit to stop the state of Washington from preventing or restricting Native American tribes "from taking fish at their usual and accustomed places" in accordance with treaties signed in 1854 and 1855. The government acts on behalf of seven tribes in Western Washington -- the Puyallup, Nisqually, Muckleshoot, Skokomish, Makah, Quileute, and Hoh.

In February 1974, U.S. District Court Judge George H. Boldt (1903-1984) issued a finding in U.S. v. Washington (384 Fed. Supp.) that the tribes were entitled to one-half of the harvestable salmon. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision.


Dee Norton, "Federal Suit Attacks Indian-fishing Laws," The Seattle Times, September 19, 1970, p. A-4; Alexandra Harmon, Indians in the Making: Ethnic Relations and Indian Identities around Puget Sound, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 240-241.

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