|Once again, Native American treaty rights have been honored. Last week, the Suquamish Indian Tribe
was allowed to dig for clams on private non-Indian land for the first time since 1994.
Judge Edward Rafeedie upheld rights from the 1855 Point No Point Treaty. That document gave Native Americans the
right to fish and take shellfish from "usual and accustomed grounds." This treaty covers the claims of
15 Western Washington tribes and requires a 50-50 split between the Native Americans and the white settlers.
a crisp, clear three-quarter moon, the sound of a drum and ancient chants were heard as the diggers approached
the land. Out of respect for the property owners and tradition, the diggers came by boat.
of around 20 tribal members dug for clams in front of Robert and Sharon Tucker's property, and that of three other
land owners. Sharon Tucker inherited her land from her grandfather. Although some property owners are not pleased
with the Judge's decision, Mrs. Tucker does not share those views.
well, gee, why not let them? I grew up here. But the Indians were here for centuries before my grandfather got
here. How could anyone say , "No'?" she says. She went on to say, "I think it's important to understand
how much communication went on between the tribe and us property owners. They never came on our property. They
always came by water and are very respectful of our privacy.
Last week's dig was to harvest about 2,000 pounds of
Manila and little neck clams sized at least an inch and a half across. Anything smaller was left on the beach to
reburrow itself for another year.
was sold to a commercial shellfish dealer who will transfer the clams for marketing.
Hayes, a Suquamish Tribe official, "This is a real stepping stone for us. We're hoping that people now will
be less fearful about Indian diggers on non-Indian land."