Skip to Main Content
Research Guides

History Day at Special Collections: Topic: Indian Fishing Rights

Special Collections is a great resource for all your Pacific Northwest primary source needs!

Background Information

In the 1850s, the United States government entered into a series of treaties with the American Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest. In the Treaty of Olympia, territorial governor Isaac I. Stevens agreed that the tribes had rights including:

"The right of taking fish at all usual and accustomed grounds and stations is secured to said Indians in common with all citizens of the Territory, and of erecting temporary houses for the purpose of curing the same; together with the privilege of hunting, gathering roots and berries, and pasturing their horses on all open and unclaimed lands. Provided, however, That they shall not take shell-fish from any beds staked or cultivated by citizens; and provided, also, that they shall alter all stallions not intended for breeding, and keep up and confine the stallions themselves."

In 1974 Federal Judge George H. Boldt issued one of the most sweeping rulings in the history of the Pacific Northwest, affirming the treaty rights of Northwest tribal fishermen and allocating to them 50 percent of the harvestable catch of salmon and steelhead.

UW Special Collections has numerous resources related to the initial treaties entered into by the US government and local tribes, support and opposition against the Boldt decision, and the experiences of tribe members since the Boldt decision.

Digital Collections

Primary Resources