First Advisor

Gordon B. Dodds

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History




Fishing -- Columbia River -- History, Indians of North America -- Fishing -- Law and legislation -- Columbia River



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, ii, 206 p.)


The Army Corps of Engineers promised in 1939 that it would provide six fishing sites totaling 400 acres for Indian fishermen to replace 40 sites that would be flooded by the pool behind Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. The agreement with the Warm Springs, Yakima and Umatilla tribes and Columbia River Indians also included construction of living quarters, boat launches, drying sheds and sanitary facilities. Only five sites were ever acquired and drying sheds and sanitary facilities were built on only two. This paper traces the delays through war, congressional appropriations, negotiations over sites, law suits, construction of new dams, disagreements between federal agencies and the tribes and between tribes, and slow moving federal agency processes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broke ground in late 1995 on the first of 31 sites totaling 3 3 5 acres that will finally fulfill the commitment to the tribes in 2002. The tracing is done in the early years almost entirely through government correspondence and documents. In later years, the major sources are newspaper articles and government documents, including court files. The paper does not find a single cause for the extraordinary delay in fulfilling promises. Rather, it concludes that a number of events, attitudes and people had a part in creating delays at different times during the six decades. World War II caused the first major delay. Later causes included disagreements about locations, lack of appropriations, disputes over what facilities were to be included and slow government procedures.


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