Fishing rights activist Alison Gottfriedson passes away

Alison Kay (Bridges) Gottfriedson, a central figure in the struggle for Indian fishing rights and an advocate for Indian people, passed away on July 18. She was 57 years old.

The daughter of Alvin James Bridges and Puyallup tribal leader Theresa (Maiselle) McCloud Bridges, Gottfriedson grew up in the Frank’s Landing Indian Community. She was arrested many times, along with her sisters Suzette and Valerie, and uncle, Billy Frank Jr., for fishing on the Nisqually River in accordance with Indian treaties.

Alison Gottfriedson“She started out as young girl, watching us all go to jail,” said Frank, chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “Then pretty soon, as she got older, she was going to jail. We never got out of that fighting for our rights.”

Gottfriedson became prominent in the Indian treaty fishing rights movement in 1970 after a photo of her being arrested was used in national publications and on television to draw attention to the issue.

“Alison has been the stone to hold us together,” Frank said. “All of us are just shocked by her death. We’re all gathered together this week to cry and laugh and celebrate Alison’s life.”

Her activism extended to other Indian treaty rights such as land claims, education and tribal gaming. She was a member of the National Indian Education Association, National Congress of American Indians and National Indian Youth Council, as well as a founding member of the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation. She was chairwoman of the Wa He Lut school board and vice-chair of the parent support service, the Alesek Institute.

She is survived by her mother, her husband, Hank Gottfriedson, sons Adochas and Spap-ull Gottfriedson, sister Suzette Bridges, uncles Andrew McCloud and Billy Frank Jr, and several grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her father, sister Valerie Bridges, paternal grandmother Mary Squally Bridges and maternal grandparents Angeline Tobin Frank, Willie (Bill) Frank Sr. and Andrew McCloud Sr.