Lower Chinook and Clatsop
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Recognition and U.S. Relations
References Cited

Link to July, 2002, Seattle Times story about tribal recognition (appearing on Chinook Nations official website).



Mouth of the Columbia River.
Photo courtesy of the Corps of Engineers
A Fish Story
White sturgeon of the Columbia River.
Image courtesy Don Larson.
See USGS map illustrating the distribution of white sturgeon in the Columbia basin today.

View Columbia and Snake River interactive map, from the Save our Wild Salmon Coalition website.

Fort Clatsop > Culture > Recognition and US Relations

The Peacock
Spit Incident


Fishing Rights
The Peacock Spit Incident
Peacock Spit (aka Clatsop Spit) at the mouth of the Columbia River.
Photo courtesy of BoatOregon.com
"We had a tribal elder who passed away in the last year, Tony Lucier, and he was fishing with a crew of 125 Indian fishermen on Peacock Spit at the mouth of the Columbia River. And the United States military came with rifles with fixed bayonets and forced them off the river, off their traditional fishing grounds" (Gary Johnson interview: 2002).

"Antone Lucier story …story of the military coming to drive them off of Peacock Spit for our traditional fishing ground, our place to fish. I think it was in the 1920's. I think maybe it was in 1928. The Chinook fishermen drove the military off with fists and oars. They pushed them back up towards Chinook and kept fishing.

"Basically, the military knew they were going to have to kill this 120 Chinook men before they'd leave that spot. So those guys did fish. They fished for that season, but that was pretty much the end of it. After that, they made sure the military got there before the Indians did" (Tony Johnson interview: 2002).


"We're recognized by everybody in the world except the United States government. In 1953, when President Eisenhower was in presidency, they decided that at that particular time that all Indians should be brought back into the melting pot of the United States, and that everybody would speak the white languages, and give up the cultures and give up their old ways and language, and just mix into the melting pot.

"Some tribes remained recognized, but the Chinooks for some reason or another fell between the cracks. Nobody can understand why we were not recognized any longer, so we've had a long fight. My particular role is working as an ambassador for my people, the Chinook. I've been working on this for about twenty-five years" (Chief Cliff Snider interview: 2002).

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Fishing Rights
"My grandpa and everyone before him, of course, were fishermen, so, fishing rights are really important to me. That's where Federal recognition is essential to us because there are plenty of Chinooks who should and want to make a living fishing. They want to be able to fish and sell that fish. Me, myself, if I caught enough fish to sell it, that's fine, pay for the gas in a boat or whatever, but my interest is the food. We can't be Chinook Indians unless we're eating fish, you know. We need that fish -- sturgeon, salmon, smelt, and flounder. Those are food must have to be Chinook Indians. How do we raise a kid up to be a Chinook Indian if we don't have fish" image
Tony Johnson and son; Sam.
K. Lugthart photo

"We've had a lot more time adjusting to English that we have adjusting to not having fish.

"We've spoke English, at least, bilingually for generations, and a lot of our cultural knowledge has been able to come across that shift of language, but our ability to fish as Indians got taken away in the 1980's. You know, this is new history to us. People my age or before me could learn how to gillnet fish and know how to mend a net or run a boat. But, young kids, the age of my son, don't have that chance. Until we fix it, until the government restores our recognition as an Indian tribe, we are in that predicament.

"This is new history, this isn't old history. You know, they were taking just our grandparent's generation to Indian school. They gave that same generation allotments on the Quinault Reservation, you know. Their parents were going to Indian hospitals to have their babies, so why is it, even at that time, the Federal Government denied that we were Indians" (Tony Johnson interview: 2002)"

Darlene Calhoun Breuher
"I'm Darlene Calhoun Breuher. I was born in Bay Center in 1938. My dad was a commercial fisherman, and then we moved to West Port. I was six years old, but every year we'd come over for the Chinook tribal council meetings, and they passed the hat and collected all kinds of money for helping get our recognition. We're still fighting fifty years later.
Darlene Calhoun Breuher

"I got on the council in 1990; I was the only woman on it. Now we have three.

"What matters most to me as a Chinook person is that our tribe gets recognition. We need fishing rights. We need health care, a community center, maybe, office for our tribe. We need land and economic development.

"A few years back, a Lewis and Clark foundation had a meeting down at Fort Clatsop with a salmon dinner and salmon ceremony. The men of tribe were there and when the people asked them to speak, they all said they didn't have anything to say. Then we got connected with Fort Clatsop and those people kept asking us questions and you could hardly shut the Chinook men up. We all brought things that we had to display for them.

"Our whole story was communicated there. Those people are very supportive of our recognition effort. The Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, I think, will be beneficial to our tribe" (Darlene Calhoun Breuher).

Background: Mouth of the Columbia River.
Photo courtesy of the Corps of Engineers