Tony Johnson: The Boldt Decision’s Impact

Tony Johnson (Chinook) talks about how the Boldt Decision reduced the fishing rights of many tribes, including the Chinook. 1:52.

Tony Johnson is the tribal chairman of the Chinook Indian Nation, as well as the chair of the tribal cultural committee. He is also the Cultural Education Director for the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe.


“So these issues around our settlement and money and around–and trust me this is not really about money–but especially around access to fishing or a access to shellfish, whatever it is it’s really continued to drive the community. The funny thing is the Boldt Decision that gave 50 percent of catchable fish to natives really only gave it to treaty tribes. And on top of that treaty tribes that negotiated or were party to the lawsuit, the Boldt, this lawsuit. So it actually took away over time our access to fish. So went from having blue cards which identified us Chinook Indians and the right to hunt and fish in our territory to having those blue cards, you know that system, taken away. And this kind of trickle down from the Boldt decision which ultimately is what they used as an excuse to prevent us from fishing at all today. So something that people don’t really think about, but it’s the ramification of not having a clearly ratified treaty or your own reservation or you own territory. To try to fix that we’re not alone in that scenario so all across the country there are communities that do not have clear recognition or acknowledgement by the federal government. Maybe the community they live in acknowledges them, their state, whatever. Maybe they had past relations with the federal government, maybe they didn’t. But regardless, the government knows that.”

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