The Yelm History Project is an interesting effort to chronicle local history in the rural Nisqually watershed community. This morning they pointed to an interesting document which outlined the value of (the yet to be affirmed in federal court) treaty fishing right.
From the Yelm History Project blog:
The following commentary comes from a report written following the removal of Nisquallies to the Thurston County side of the river. In this portion of the report the author, who had spent time interviewing local Indians related to Washington Native American concerns about the status of their fishing rights. References in ( ) refer to documents he sent in with his report.
Treaty-Fishing Right Nearly As Valuable as Lands
Rev. Father DeDecker states that “this fishing privilege (of the Nisquallies) was the most valuable right they lost by being dispossessed of their lands;” that “their main dependence for meat was fish secured by them form the Nisqually River where it passes through the reservation where they fished unmolested and dried large quantities of salmon for winter use during the salmon runs;” that “their daily diet consists mostly of potatoes, bread, and fish, and often when the potatoes gave out it would be only biscuits and fish, principally the latter – sometimes they had little to eat but fish which they caught from the Nisqually,” and that, “Most of the Nisqually Indians ate fish daily, in fact if deprived of fish some of them would have nearly starved.”
There is also a long archive on their blog about the treaty rights struggles, including a year by year archive, letters and editorials.