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Getting the Feds Off Their, and on Indians', Backs

by Jim Fisher, Lewiston Tribune
September 21, 1999

That's some version of freedom from the federal government a group of opponents of federal salmon recovery efforts presented to Asotin County commissioners the other day. In order to prevent the government from taking "control of your land and water," the commissioners were told, they should join the call for the feds to exercise greater control over the number of fish Indians catch.

Increased federal control of Indians, and others who catch fish, is more acceptable to members of Common Sense Salmon Recovery than increased control of county commissioners and other Great White Fathers. That could be explained by the fact that the group represents no fishing organizations. Its supporters do include the Washington Builders Association, the Washington Association of Realtors, the Washington State Farm Bureau and the Washington Cattlemen's Association.

And after lining up those experts in rescuing endangered species, Common Sense Salmon Recovery wants to add county commissioners to the list. Commissioners, and some of their constituents' money, that is.

Common Sense Salmon Recovery President Trent Matson says he will use the money for a lawsuit seeking a court order that the National Marine Fisheries Service reduce the number of salmon harvested.

Sure, NMFS might have biologists and other people with fancy initials behind their names who say factors like habitat and hydropower have at least as much to do with the disappearance of salmon as harvest. But who speaks for good old common sense?

Builders, Realtors, the Farm Bureau (which does not represent all farmers, remember) and the Cattlemen's Association -- that's who. And their common sense tells them if we got the Indians under tighter control, we would have more fish.

Not only that, but Matson and his supporters have apparently divined that the feds don't really care about salmon anyway. Their objective is power.

"Salmon is the excuse to give the federal government control of your land and water," Matson told Asotin County commissioners.

That apparently sounds right to the commissioners, who told Matson they would probably support his suit, even if they don't give him any money.

Common sense says the only good Indian is a fishless Indian.

Jim Fisher
Getting the Feds Off Their, and on Indians', Backs
Lewiston Tribune, September 23, 1999

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