In the struggle for Indian sovereignty, Washington state tribes have led the charge on every major front - in the courts, in Congress and around conference tables.
It is perhaps not surprising, then, that
other Washington residents have led the
The formidable United Property Owners
of Washington (UPOW) led a statewide initiative attempt to annul
Indian treaties. It has formed networks across the country to push
for national legislation limiting Indian
UPOW has been granted the right to speak
for property owners in the federal lawsuit now being argued in
Seattle. UPOW says it represents more than 100 organizations with a
combined membership of more than 60,000
Indians claim the resistance is racially
motivated. Those involved insist it is not.
has nothing to do with race," said UPOW member Joe Hoots. "I have
nothing against Indians. This is a property-rights issue."
For 55 years, Hoots and his wife have enjoyed
100 spectacular feet of high-bank waterfront in Gig Harbor. From
their living room, the Hootses can see Mount Rainier towering over
a long, sweeping stretch of the Tacoma
Hoots believes that his years of
residence have given him the right to say who can cross his
property and who can dig the clams on his
He is looking forward to testifying in
federal court against the tribes' claim that their treaties give
them the right to gather shellfish on privately owned tidelands.
That's what UPOW is all about, Hoots
Rudolph Ryser sees things
A Cowlitz tribal member and head of
the Olympia-based Center for World Indigenous Studies, Ryser spent
six years tracking what he calls "the anti-Indian movement" in
Ryser concluded that resistance to
tribal sovereignty has been orchestrated and inflamed by a small,
hard-core group of Washington conservatives. The acronyms and
mailing lists have changed over time, Ryser said. The basic agenda
and the organizers have not.
owners like Hoots, Ryser said, are being misinformed and
"These people are largely duped into
supporting an agenda that has never been laid out before them,"
The real goal of the movement, he
maintains, is the overthrow of tribal governments and the
displacement of Indian people with non-Indians on Indian