Morning Speakers: Personal stories from the Boldt Era


Hank Adams, left, Ramona Bennett and Billy Frank Jr. address the Boldt 40 celebration.

Ramona Bennett, chairwoman of the Puyallup Tribe at the time of the Boldt decision

“With the help of all those various good Indian people and good other people, we were able to get the attention that we needed. The timing was everything. It was during the peace strikes. The civil rights movements. There was change going on. And we got to be part of that change.”

“We went to court. The day I heard about the decision. I had my feet up on my desk and when I got the decision phone call, I jumped up and ended up in my wastebasket and yelled, ‘We lost 50% of our fish!’” (Crowd laughs)

Leo LaClair – Muckleshoot Tribe

“Hank Adams was one of our guys who got the press releases and media out there. An idea of the National Indian Youth Council was taking the treaty from Seattle to the governor in Olympia. Wow, that’s a long paddle. We made it. Our objective was to get national attention with Hank Adams and it worked.”

Gilbert Kinggeorge – Muckleshoot Tribe

Re: The 1855-56 treaties:

“The old teaching – never say no to a relative. Again, I spoke earlier how history seems to repeat itself. There were only four tribes that responded. In that time of need, Chief Leschi rode back to visit every tribe in here in the state asking for help to come support us in the first treaty war. You could tell what the response was. Again, here we were with the second treaty war, called the Salmon Wars, Boldt Decision. Nevertheless, we are a proud people because those struggles opened the way for everyone to participate with their treaty rights.”

“We have nothing to be ashamed of. The tribes are champions of habitat.”

Hank Adams – Assiniboine Sioux

“We’ve lost many of the Indian people who love the land and the waters so much to this life of fishing and to this life on the waters and to this life on the land.”

“There are many elements to this fight. There are many generations that have made this fight.”

“This crowd would have been larger if there hadn’t been a (Seahawks Super Bowl) parade today. This crowd would have been at least this large if this had been a potlach in the 1880s or 1890s. This isn’t a big crowd compared to what the Indian crowds were at potlatches were 125 years ago. It wasn’t uncommon to see 1,800 canoes on Commencement Bay. For each canoe, you had a multiple number of people. In 1853, coming from Tacoma/Fort Nisqually to Olympia – Ezra Meeker looked out on the Nisqually and saw Indians of all ages and sexes harvesting their catch, which would have been august, king salmon. There were good numbers involved in this life that the Indian people lead.”

“Frank Law was a S’Klallam who went to Puyallup Industrial School. They played the first Thanksgiving Game in 1898 against University of Washington’s football team. And the Indian school won.

At Christmas, they had to return for what is called the championship of the PNW. PIS and UW – when the Indian team arrived in Seattle – UW said they wouldn’t take the field if Frank Law played since he’d play some semi-pro basketball pick up games. And he beat them in the first game. So they benched him. And UW narrowly won the championship game. Those are the first two games of UW football history.”

“Part of the joke at the time was if you just leave it up to us Montanians, we’ll settle this issue. Thankfully Boldt did and for the long term.”

Posted on February 5, 2014 by troyal

Boldt 40: a day of perspectives on the Boldt Decision

The treaty tribes in western Washington will come together on February 5, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Boldt Decision.

Boldt 40 will be held at the Squaxin Island Tribe’s Skookum Event Center north of Olympia. Map:

Speakers will take attendees through the history of the case and the development of co-management.

Charles Wilkinson will give a lunchtime keynote address: “Justice at its Truest and Finest: The High Place of the Boldt Decision in American Law.” Wilkinson is Distinguished Professor and Moses Lasky Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School. He is the author of “Messages from Frank’s Landing: A Story of Salmon, Treaties.”


Rebecca Hunter on  said:

Hands up to Squaxin Island people for being hosts of this most honorable occasion.
Please keep me updated here at Tulalip, WA

Patricia on  said:

Hi Auntie I will send you pics! Love you, and miss you!

rick k peters on  said:

I can remember walking up the steps of the Federal Court House in Tacoma with, my father, CalvinJ. Peters. And then, in 1994, I walked up the steps to the Federal Court House in Seattle as, Shellfish Manager, for the Squaxin Island Tribe of Indians!
I feel it was an Honor to be an Expert Witness in the Shellish Case for the treaty tribes of Western Washington and, be a part of the only part of the piece of the Shellfish case settled out of Court-The Shellfish Sanitaton Agreement signed into law the first day of the Shellfish trial.
It truely is an honor to particpate with the tribal leaders who, were a part of the original Boldt case.

Rick Peters

Rick K Peters on  said:

I can remember walking up the steps to the Federal Courthouse in Tacoma, with my father, Cal Peters, the first day of the Boldt case! I never before hear so much hate against the Indian people who represented their tribes, during the Boldt case. And there’s still racist remarks every fishing season about the tribes.