As of Tuesday, August 4, 2015
More than a week ago, the tribal fishing boat The Dream Catcher was vandalized while moored near Monse.
Racial epithets suggest that the reason for the vandalism may be related to the court decision that allows the Colville Confederated Tribes to take fish when non-Indian fishermen cannot.
But the fishing vessel doesn’t just allow the tribe to take fish.
It also collects salmon — both natural and hatchery Chinook broodstock — for use at Chief Joseph Hatchery. The broodstock taken by this boat are the basis for 2.9 million salmon yearlings released into local waterways annually by hatchery staff.
In short, the few fish the vessel’s crews catch provide jobs and recreational opportunities for the area. In turn, those jobs and recreational opportunities bring fishermen, who spend money on gas, food, hotels and more. You could say the tribal boat is a source of economic development not only for the Brewster area, but all of the Okanogan.
While the tribal boat also harvests some of the salmon for food, native Chinook not taken for broodstock are released to spawn. So, only hatchery fish are taken to be consumed. That’s no different than for non-Indian fishermen.
While some non-Indian residents and visitors believe the Boldt decision — the court ruling that generally gave half of all fish to tribes in Washington state — that is not sufficient reason for vandalism. And it is not a reason for the hatred scrawled aboard the boat.
We hope the community will step up and help the Colville Tribal Police catch the vandal who did more than express hatred. In doing so, the community may help curtail racism while giving the tribal community a thumbs up for its effort to create jobs, preserve salmon and improve our communities.