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On January 11, 1974, Judge George Boldt handed down a decision on Pacific Northwest Indian treaty fishing rights that would become one of the most dramatic, highly contested, and significant court rulings in Pacific Northwest history. The Boldt decision in US v. Washington was the outcome of decades of struggles on the part of Puget Sound Indian nations to protect and preserve their right to fish. As three years of testimony and investigation unfolded in Judge Boldt’s court room, the significance of fish, both economically and culturally to Northwest Indian people’s identity was revealed. There were numerous diverse people, from different tribes and different states, who played a role in seeing the case brought to court and to completion. But they all shared the same goal: to win federal recognition and protection of treaty rights and to use that acknowledgement to reinvigorate fishing as a key element of their economies and identities.


Published in v. 22, no. 1 & 2 (2013) of Native Studies Review.



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