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CRITFC’s Impact

Over the past 35 years, the Yakama, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Nez Perce tribes have worked together through CRITFC to achieve significant accomplishments and milestones that have protected tribal treaty fishing rights, salmon, and the watersheds where fish live.

Here is a chronology of CRITFC’s 35 most noteworthy accomplishments of the last three and a half decades:

The Early Years (1977-1989)

1977 Four Columbia treaty tribes found CRITFC
Lawsuits continue to make progress enforcing U.S. v. Oregon ruling
1979 CRITFC makes “Ocean Connection” confirming ocean fishing’s impact on Columbia River Basin salmon runs
1981 Freedom of Information Act used to obtain federal hatchery records
1982 Member tribes and CRITFC major contributors to first Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program
Four tribes authorize CRITFC Fisheries Enforcement program
1983 Water Budget Center (Fish Passage Center) created
1985 Four tribes key in gaining bilateral agreement in U.S.-Canada Salmon Treaty
Attempts to deny Indian tribes’ steelhead fishing rights finally thwarted
1986 Successful lawsuit leads to no new hydropower in protected areas
1988 U.S. v. Oregon Columbia River Fish Management Plan signed
Flow Agreements protect Basin’s largest wild fall chinook populations

The Middle Years (1990-2001)

1991 Salmon Marketing Program initiated
1992 Endangered Species Act listings generate new lawsuits
1994 Member tribes assert treaty right to fish Willamette Falls
Snake River fall chinook supplementation won in U.S. v Oregon settlement
Salmon Corps is first Workforce Development Program
Fish Consumption Survey published
1995 Wy-Kan-Ush-Mi Wa-Kish-Wit, the Spirit of the Salmon Restoration Plan released
1997 Watershed Department created to coordinate implementation of Tribal Restoration Plan
1999 CRITFC and University of Idaho create Hagerman Genetics Laboratory
2001 Large runs of upriver spring chinook, summer steelhead and coho return

The Recent Years (2002-2012)

2003 Events invite public to celebrate Wy-Kan-Ush Pum with message “We are All Salmon People”
2004 Dam spill won to save juvenile salmon
2007 CRITFC observes 50th Anniversary of the flooding of Celilo Falls
2008 U.S. v. Oregon Agreement uses new approaches
Three CRITFC member tribes and BPA sign Columbia Basin Fish Accords (Nez Perce declined to sign)
Pacific Salmon Treaty Chinook Annex signed by US and Canada
2010 CRITFC holds first Indian Fishers Expo
One of the most successful tribal fishing seasons to date
Salmon Camp encourages Native youth to study math and science
2011 BIA law enforcement duties on Columbia River transferred to CRITFC
Four tribes form Tribal FishCo, LLC
CRITFC finalizes Lamprey Restoration Plan
Condit Dam removed to restore fish passage
2012 31 treaty fishing access sites approved by Congress in 1988 completed

Future Challenges

The work of CRITFC has only just begun. Under the guidance of the four member tribes, there are new challenges to address as we enter the next 35 years of intertribal cooperation. Among these are:

  • Reduce toxic contamination in the waters of the Columbia River Basin
  • Increase natural spawning of salmon, sturgeon, and lamprey throughout the region
  • Find a solution to unchecked predation problems in the Columbia River
  • Support changes to the U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty that respect both salmon and tribal trust responsibilities
  • Combat efforts to decrease federal funding levels that impact tribal efforts to rebuild salmon runs to their full productivity

Ocean Connection

1979. Columbia River, Puget Sound, and Washington Coastal tribes sued the Sec. of Commerce over ocean fishing regulations because a large percentage of treaty fish were being caught in waters managed by the Dept. of Commerce.

Salmon Corps

1994. Salmon Corps gave natural resource training and experience to tribal youth and young adults (18 to 25 years old). The crews built more than 365 miles of riparian fence, planted tens of thousands of native trees and other vegetation, monitored water quality and released more than six million anadromous fish into basin streams.


2003.CRITFC’s Wy-Kan-Ush Pum Village welcomed visitors to participate in the traditions of the region’s tribal salmon cultures. Tepees, Appaloosa horses, tribal members in traditional dress and the aroma fry bread and roasted salmon filled the village while visitors learned that that we are all Salmon People.