(What follows here is a series of Emails received from Chris Stoess, a commercial fisherman from Washington State, and his take on the "Indian Problem" fishermen are experiencing out his way. Sounds even worse than the NMFS problems.)
Dec. 2, 1996

I am currently tring to make some sort of 1/2 assed living digging clams & as you might know the shellfish industry here is under the same sort of attack as the salmon industry was in the 70's by the Tribes. Starting in March our court appointed Tribal Special Masters (this is a legal title) will be inspecting all clam beaches and determining how much they can harvest off privately owned calm farms, and how much of what is left we can take, taking into account clam farm owners will bare the burden of maintaining and reseeding the farm and of course paying the property taxs on said farm.

It's really a different issue legally speaking. As I understand it you are being shut down by NMFS even though there are plenty of clams because of allocation issues. We face a take over by Treaty Tribes based on previously decided cases in the US Supreme court, which in turn are based on Treaties made in the late 1880's between the US and the Tribes. There are allocation aspects, but they are more closely based on RIghts vs Privledges. Tribes have Constituionally guarnteed Rights (via Treaties), while we have lesser Constituionally guarnteed Privledges, which has 2ce been stated by the Court as "Indians have Rights, you have privledges, which can be denied at any given time". Also "Any case heard by this Court involving Indians will always be decided in their favor, unless there is overwhelming proof to the contrary".

Fight This!! and see what it cost you. Remember you only have the funds you can raise, the lawyers you can hire, they have ther entire Federal Treasury and all the Federal Laywers. You have only the access to the media you can buy, they have total and open access based on their 'impoverished, downtrodden image', which they get to hype without question.

til later

Dec 3, 1996

When I got your email yesterday, I immediately call the guy I dig clams for. Coincidently he had just recieved the legal brief from the other big grower. Maybe I should back up here a bit...we had a long delayed much balyhooed 'shellfish decision' recently. The federal judge basicly denied most of the Tribal claims, but allowed them to harvest from certain privately held beaches that didn't meet a long list of conditions. Still the beaches available to the tribes covered a lot of area, but not the bulk of the resourse. The bulk is of course found on the farms. So quote to prove a point unquote they filled on some poor woman who had purchaced a dead beach years ago. She set out to restore it but seeding graveling and netting (to keep the predators off). She never harvested very much, but kept maticulous records. If the Tribes could get her farm, they would get all the rest.

The Tribes in this new challenge (not publized - the public thinks the case over) state that "Treaty law superceeds the Constitution and the Bill of Rights". Therefore the Tribes "reserve the RIGHT to these farms, the RIGHT to use their traditional harvest methods, the RIGHT to use all non-tribal harvest methods". We, they state, "have no RIGHT to use any off these methods or to the farms". What we "have previously deemed as rights are in fact not RIGHTS, but privilidges, which are now denied....." Sends a chill up my spine, for one.

Would you care to extend that last thought to other areas of our so-called 'guarenteed rights'....huuummmm?

In short we (all non-Indians) can simply leave the planet; it's theirs not ours.

{Long term. We now are seeing our local National Parks bearing signs that declare managemnet by some UN agency, zoning that fits an exclusive usage description (ie excludes any use of said area), a Tribal take over of private property, natural resourses - including water rights[!!], and a general tone from many directions that says: look, but don't touch, unless you are a member of an exclusive group. And above all do not harvest any natural resourses for any reason, unless you are a member of above groups.

The Tribes are the defacto co-managers of fish & wildlife with the State of Washington - a state of affairs reached in a secret backroom deal between the state and Tribes. This, and the current legal Special Master status granted to the tribes leads in the direction that we in the future will be the ones on reservations, run and tightly controlled by the Tribes. That is, if we are among the lucky, rich and powerful non-indians. All others will be gotten rid off or reduced to the status of bonded/indentured servant/slave.}

What does this have to do with your shellfish problems?? Think about it....if you are shut down, whose clams become valuable???? huuuuummmm??

(The trouble with your lawsuit was you thought too small -- had you had added a few zeros to the figure, what would have been the result?) It's also a problem - thinking small - for the rest of us too, so you guys aren't alone.

Don't you know all these tribes, nationwide, talk to eachother on a regular basis - even daily??

They know you are shut down, they know what the markets are, and they have plans for the whole of the industry that do not include us. You guys might think it's sport preasure (they're just opportunists) or somethinkg to do with some NMFS buractatic plan, but look again, NMFS is a weak sister comparied to the budget and clout of the BIA.

Not to mention the sterotypical East Coast emotional belief that somehow the Indians were greatly wronged in the past. Thus, it's OK for any individuals in the tribes way to pay the price in full for the nation's collective guilt. Since somehow Indians are higher and better than the rest of americans, therefore 'in touch' with nature, they deserve all they can be given, no matter who pays the price, as long as the public at large remains sheilded and unaffected from any adverse effects.

As long as any public ramifications, at any given time, are small and piecemeal, this creeping monster will continue to crawl, claiming new and unsuspecting victims in it's search to assage this percieved past grievious wrong. Many of the necessary dominos are in place, a few more and they will all fall...most people will be too busy trying to make a living to notice.

Just ask the guys that used to commercially fish the Great Lakes, ask the Maine foresters & loggers.

You and I are NON-INDIANS. The Tribes do not distinguish between us, merely because of some treaties made on the West Coast. The treaties are only stepping stones used by all US tribes, used to gain a final objective. Rembember too, it was Nixion that opened this can of horrors when he tried to end the reservation system, and when he turned the then theoritical aboriginal law in Alaska into real law, and that the first application was the 74 Boldt decision here in WA, which spread nationwide, to Canada, then worldwide. (BTW - It was also Nixon & Erilickman that started the Federal Enviromental Movement, while on a trip around the San Juan Is here in WA). Rule of thumb seems to be to try an idea in 'the other Washington' first, then after legal codificatiuon & political success, take it nationwide. We paid the price here first; you East Coasters are living on borrowed time.

Many are coming to believe that objective is the isolation or removal of all Non-Indains. Far fetched, you say. Maybe, but remember they claim Soverienty, and they claim much of the land natural resouces in the US.

There is also a Federal Court decision that actually mandates the removal of ALL man-made structures & roads from certain areas, when certain conditions are met & agreed apon by the Tribes. The current figure the tribes are using to buy them out, should this occur (West Coast Columbia River region only) is $3 Trillion... that's THREE TRILLION DOLLARS. And they have stated they will not hesitate to exercise this option... And what will be the cost attached to the rest of the US?????? {remember, think big}.

>Do you use tongs or a dredge or .....

Would that we could.... The last legal clam dredge was shut down in 82 or 83. The waterfront living 'public' raised an outcry because the dredges (sub-tidal only) made too much noise & spoiled the view. Wherever that guy did drudged was not recently in Wa, nor if he did legal. And the dredges that did opperate prior to 82 made 40K in a day or two. There is an enormous amount of subtidal clams out here, but like most resourses, we (non-indians) are not allowed to harvest them.

You guys ain't seen clams on the market, until you see what the Tribes plan to do with their dredges (their RIGHT to use our methods that we cannot use). The Tribes sneeze at anything that brings less than $500 per day to it's harvesters. No Indian will work for less - NO taxs either. As a result of the shellfish decision tribal harvesters are making 10K per day on Urchins, more on Cucumbers & Moon Snails, plus an additioal 5K per day on Spot Prawns. NO taxs state or federal, NO seasons - they open it for themselves when they feel like it's to their advantage to do so.

No tongs allowed here ever. It's strictly a bend over or crawl on your knees proposition. The weapon of choice is a rake. We use a short-handled steel rake for water digging, and rarely - a long handled one for water digging where the beach does not go dry. The principle target for these weapons are manila clams. Also we use a steel short-handled rake with curved pitch fork-like tines for digging the deeper little neck clam.

We use a 5 gal bucket for the clams - abt 40 lbs for manilas & 38 lbs for little necks per bucket/bag. We get .48 lb from Gunstone Clams - we dig on beaches they own. (To make our humility worse, we have to pack the clams off by hand or wheelbarrow). Tribes demand & get $1.42 lb. (much garbage in their bags BTW - dead clams, shell & seed). The only way the buyers come out is either to sort or to short the weight. The indians don't care - there's a new pickup waiting, and/or a new line of coke.... BTW, same with Dungeness Crab -- shorts, females, dead -- whatever comes to hand. Makes me sick to see it.

Check out the new 5,200 sq ft homes the Tribes natinwide are building with HUD money.....(will post on news page 5 later). The images you see of 'lo the poor downtrodden indian living in poverty' are strickly public relations gimicks. Yes, some real indians do live that way, but only because they are forced to remain where they are by the indians that control & run the particular tribe in question. Weapon of choise by the tribal elders is alcohol, drugs and exclusion from any tribal benefits. Very harsh, very cruel, but it is the way it is in many of tribes. There are larger objectives at stake, and a few must be sacrified, seems to be the mentalty. Makes me sick to see this as well, but it's all over around here; you can't miss it.

There is a video of how shellfish farming & harvest should and can be done - it's of the Midi region in France - if you ever get a chance, watch it - had I seen that tape two decades ago, I'd be speaking French fluently by now. Yes, it's that good. Reed Gunstone has the tape. If I see him before the new year, I'll send the name & where can be ordered. Later, gonna make some web buttons


Dec 4, 1996

I have no familiarity with the situation and so can't comment
>intelligently (as if i ever could).

I guess it's too much to expect that you would see this any differently than so many others who've been told much the same as I told you, and who reacted much the same as you have: it's your problem, not mine. There is a long list of guys & organiaztions, even whole states that thought it wasn't their problem. Now they are either history or burried under tons of indian shit. BTW a Federal Judge in WIS is ruling, as we speak, on whether or not to give the ENTIRE state to the local tribes. And what is the name of the tribe which now controls northern Maine?

I respectfully suggest, maybe it's time you started to brecome familliar with this 'problem'. As I recall there is at least one tribe in Southern Jersey somewhere. I can't tell you how many times I heard, after the fact: 'gee, you guys were right, we should have listened to you, things sure would have been different now'.

Again I repeat - who do you think put NMFS up to shutting you down? Who has the clout & who has the most to gain? It certain wasn't a bunch of greenpeace or enviro types. Nor was it a bunch of sporties needing to add a few more clams to the picnic or make a little more tax free pocket money. Follow the big money.

I realize you guys don't see much Indian activity on the East Coast, beyond their giant billion dollar casino in Conn. (The daily intake is over 1 million dollars a day - financing was done using the off-shore process with a wealthy, unnamed Indonesian businessman - where have we heard in the headline news about Indonesia lately? The tribe in question does not have to reveal the names or sources of it's funding, because they like all Federally Recognized Tribes, claim Sovereignty and are thus immune to the discovery and disclosure process).


The take-over process: You go about your daily business with neary an injin in site. So when things happen you look for the obvious culprits. Which you are meant to find. Which you proceed to attack. On which you expend your resourses and energies. And so doing become weaker, and weaker. Until one day you look at your enemy and realize you no longer have the funds you once had to fight with. Then the internal bickering starts, and you get weaker still, until guys start giving up and moving on. The pace of various attacks begins to step-up, reaching a sustained crescendo. A vaccuum begins to develop and somebody will, when the time is right - both politically and financially - step in.

Where are you now in this process???? Judge for yourself. But in it you are. This is a nationwide systematic takeover of and attack on all known resources and current resourse harvesters. There are no exceptions. This is not a wild theory or crazy belief, but documented fact, Gosta.

The other side of the process: they might live just down the road from you, maybe just some quite old granny in some old, out-of-the-way house. Like in Conn. Maybe she'll have an ambitious neice or grandson - like in Conn. The kids will pay a visit in the course of things, and say to ol' granny, 'Why don't we get our tribe going again?' - like in Conn. She'll say 'gosh, what a great idea' - like in Conn. And the Kids will go thru the backdoor recognition process in Congress, and lo & behold, like magic from on high, you now have a Federally Recognised Tribe next door - like in Conn.

The kids will say, 'Gee, granny didn't our tribe used to harvest clams (name of the natural resource) back in the good ol days before whitey?' And granny will say, 'Yep. I'll testify to that'. The Kids will say, 'Why we could make a lot of money like our Brothers out West, if we just get rid of the blue-eyes harvesting them clams now. We got ins and connections now, let's go see the Man'.

'Well', says the Man at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 'there's more than ample legal precident for your claim, thanks to the pioneering efforts of our Brothers to the West. And of course, the Confederated Tribes of the US have not only many-millions of dollars from stupid blue-eyed gamblers, but our own extensive and experienced legal staff. And if that isn't enough to get rid of a hand full of whites, we'll throw the Feds, our legal guardians, at them again.'

'They are a stubborn bunch', he continues, 'but they are so blinded in their naivete and idealism, and fractionated in their pursuit of individuallism, they'll never get together, let alone find some recourse to impeed us. It's like hitting a blindman with a baseball bat and just about as easy. BTW, we could, with just a bit more effort, get the rest of the State of NJ as well. What do you say we go for it?'

These guys are not a bunch of 'dumb injins'. They are highly educated, very sophisticated, very astute businessmen with many-million dollar funds at their disposal. They are extreemly politically active - their presence at both poltical conventions this year was a powerful force both parties had to recon and deal with during the convention process. To which they made very large donations. The Mafia takes lessons from these guys. And to which they have many ties - currently there are several Tribal leaders that are or have been investagated by Federal Grand Jurys for their Mafia connections.

Why am I expending so much effort once again? I don't know, maybe it's just hating to see blind people being flailed with whips and beaten with baseball bats once again, and remaining silent, doing nothing.


Q: What can I do?
A: Alot, before you are sucked too far into the process.

1) Read the Constitution. An ever umpopular passtime.

2) Pay close attention to any and all refeences in the Constitution to natives, Indians and treaties.

3) Contact a Constitutional scholar and a Constitutional lawyer, find out exacly what can be done before this process goes too far in your area, and when it comes, what to do then.

4) Contact an expert on Treaty Law - that's all treaties - indian & international. There are many avenues that have never been explored legally in this area. But it takes big money.

5) Start a war chest of money and information.

6) Pay close attention to what has already been done in other area of the country.

7) Pay close attention to what is currently being done in other parts of the country.

8) Ask around to those already effected - personally and legally - and listen closely, for the Indians have made many legal mistakes which can be capitalized on.

7) All of the above will lead you to more possiblilities.