The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission mourns the passing of our elder and former Chair Fidelia Andy, who represented the Yakama Nation at the CRITFC commission table from 2006 to 2010.
Fidelia Andy was a strong advocate for all the First Foods. She was driven by a commitment to traditional gathering and fishing, protecting tribal treaty rights to access these foods, and sharing with others the health benefits and cultural significance of the salmon, deer, roots, and berries.
In 2007, Andy became the first woman to serve as the CRITFC Chair, serving from July 2007 to June 2008. At her swearing in ceremony, Andy said, “My grandparents were Wishram. I grew up on the Columbia River. I witnessed The Dalles Dam and the other dams that followed. I fished the Columbia River in the 1980s. Both sides of my family were treaty signers of the 1855 Yakama Treaty, so I am here to protect and serve as my forefathers did before me.”
During her time as CRITFC Chair, Fidelia Andy represented her people and all four of the CRITFC member tribes with pride and dedication. As CRITFC Chair, she was one of the signatories of the ceremonial buckskin that entered the Yakama, Warm Springs, and Umatilla tribes, CRITFC, the Bonneville Power Administration, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the US Bureau of Reclamation into the Columbia Basin Fish Accords. The Accords secured $900 million for salmon restoration projects throughout the Columbia River Basin and set the stage for an unprecedented effort by all four of the Columbia River treaty fishing tribes to carry out their goal of putting fish back in the rivers and protecting the waters where they live.
Andy was comfortable speaking in formal settings like Tribal Councils and before US senators and representatives, but she also wasn’t afraid to get out onto the river. During one ride-along to see the tribal sea lion hazing efforts, Andy wasn’t content with just watching the work. She watched a technician firing cracker shells to scare away the sea lions and made him hand over his rifle so she could get an opportunity to fire some noisemaker shots herself.
Andy was a strong, traditional woman who was very involved with her family, her tribe and tribal government, and her people. She always spoke her mind and what was in her heart and freely offered her hand, advice, and prayers.
“Fidelia was a great example of dedication to salmon and her people,” said CRITFC’s Executive Director and fellow Yakama Nation citizen, Aja DeCoteau. “Her leadership in protecting and speaking on behalf of the First Foods is an example we can all learn from.”