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Yakama Nation Remembers 30th Anniversary Of Fish Wars

You know the name Rosa Parks. But do you know David Sohappy? He was at the center of a 30-year legal battle over Native American rights to fish salmon.

Next week the Yakama will mark the 30th anniversary of what they call the “Fish Wars.”

Sohappy , a Yakama tribal member, was imprisoned for fishing in his family’s traditional places along the Columbia River. He later won in federal court, proving he wasn’t to blame for a decline in salmon.

Emily Washines said natives like her still face Sohappy’s fight. A few years ago, Washines was after lamprey eels. The state of Washington warned her to stop. ??

“Something that really struck and stayed with me, in this was thinking about our fishers before us that just never gave up,” Washines said. “And so I knew that as a part of that legacy, I had to not give up, and I went and fished.”

The celebration will include several events including a film, a public presentation by Sohappy’s lawyer and a guided archaeological walk on the Columbia River.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.