Antone Minthorn: In the End We Won. We Got "Fish Back in Umatilla."

In this excerpt Antone Minthorn (Umatilla) talks about the process of restoring salmon to the Umatilla River.

In this excerpt Antone Minthorn (Umatilla) talks about the process of restoring salmon to the Umatilla River.

Bio: Antone Minthorn has served for more than twenty years with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) in various roles, from chief planner to chair of the board of trustees. He is a founding board member of Confluence.


Around that time in the 1960s and 1970s, the fishing wars were going on, Billy Frank was one of the leaders in that. So that was a huge political issue. They were fighting to keep their treaty fishing rights, that they could practice them and us them because they were being arrested for that in the state of Washington. And Oregon was also in opposition to that. But they won. They won some cases at that time, up at the Supreme Court. And Umatilla it was administration ahead of me that that — CRITFC, I think Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission was created at that time, also in the 70s. But that we should restore water and salmon to the Umatilla River, which was dewatered because of irrigation. And then we hired some staff, consulting staff to work on it. They were really tough guys, Doug Nash, to work on it. So I begin to work with the irrigators and also got the support from Pendleton, Howard Ankins , was a banker but he was interested in restoring water and salmon and was probably one of the strongest leaders in that effort to restore salmon in the water to Umatilla. And we began our meeting processes, meeting with the state government and meeting with the irrigators. Senator Hatfield, state representatives. We covered all our ground and in the end, we won. We got salmon and water back into the Umatilla River. In 1994, I think, the salmon came back. But when it did it took all of us to make it happen in the Umatilla Basin, it took all of us and it’s a “win-win” for all of us. Everybody enjoys the benefit of that. And we all traveled together eventually, all the irrigators and all traveled back to DC to testify. It was a big win.