Paw'd Defiance

Generous and Welcoming

April 02, 2019 UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Danica Miller and her father, Puyallup Tribe Vice Chairman Bill Sterud. Season 1 Episode 1
Paw'd Defiance
Generous and Welcoming
Chapters
Paw'd Defiance
Generous and Welcoming
Apr 02, 2019 Season 1 Episode 1
UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Danica Miller and her father, Puyallup Tribe Vice Chairman Bill Sterud.

UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Danica Miller and her father, Puyallup Tribe Vice Chairman Bill Sterud come to the studio to talk about the Indigenous history of the Tacoma area. Miller and Sterud provide context to our historical understanding of the area by discussing, among other things, the Medicine Creek Treaty and the Boldt decision. UW Tacoma sits on ancestral Puyallup land. Miller and Sterud talk about the campus' founding and how that revitalized the Downtown area.

Show Notes Transcript

UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Danica Miller and her father, Puyallup Tribe Vice Chairman Bill Sterud come to the studio to talk about the Indigenous history of the Tacoma area. Miller and Sterud provide context to our historical understanding of the area by discussing, among other things, the Medicine Creek Treaty and the Boldt decision. UW Tacoma sits on ancestral Puyallup land. Miller and Sterud talk about the campus' founding and how that revitalized the Downtown area.

Bill Sterud:

I protested against the smelter and actually got to see it blow up.

Danica Miller:

I was with you, remember?

Bill Sterud:

It was a good day.

Maria C.:

From UW Tacoma, this is Paw’d Defiance. Welcome to Paw’d Defiance, where we don't lecture, but we do educate. I'm your host, Maria Crisostomos. The goal of this show is to provide a broader lens of looking at our community. With this knowledge, we hope people living in the area and others around the world will find new insights and understandings that will help them better understand their world. During the next few months, you'll hear me talk about all sorts of interesting things including how Jurassic Park inspired a generation of future scientists and Emar, the robot that measures stress in teens. Today, we're handing over the microphone to UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Danica Miller and her father Puyallup Tribal Chairman Bill Sterud. You may know that our campus sits on ancestral Puyallup land and it seems only fitting that we kick off the podcast with a discussion about the Puyallup and the connection to both UW Tacoma and the surrounding area. We hope you enjoy the show.

Danica Miller:

Hi, this is Danica Sterud Miller. I am an assistant professor of American Indian studies at the University of Washington Tacoma. And I'm about to introduce — or I am introducing — Bill Sterud, who has the very important distinction of being my dad. And, in addition, he's also chairman of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. Hi, dad.

Bill Sterud:

Hey. How we doing?

Danica Miller:

Good, good. So, I think that we should just start by talking about the area of Tacoma before settlement. So, what are your stories or what do you know about the area before the settlement came in?

Bill Sterud:

Oh, this is just a beautiful area. And though with it has some, you know, some bad industrial looks of it, but in the day, you know, it was beautiful. It's just the mountain, the trees, the water, everything was clear, pristine. It was really a joyful place to be for the natives. They loved their deep-water port land where a lot of the resources were developed — fish, clams, oysters, etc.

Danica Miller:

So can you talk about sort of the history of… I think it's hard to even sort of… when I look at the history of the Puyallup and the history, in terms of colonization… it's hard. It just has always been, not just with the Boldt decision, but always been a history of fighting for our right to fish from seemingly like day one, from the Medicine Creek Treaty. Can you speak to that or just what was your growing up in fishing like for you?

Bill Sterud:

Well, in the old, old days, you know, the table was set at a low tide. You just went and got your food. So, you know, with the change that took place among the native people here was catastrophic. You know, suddenly we had village sites, we had a fishing sites, we had the ceremonies, we had just this beautiful society that existed. And then it came crashing down. When, I don't like to even say his name, but he was the guy that worked for the railroad. Also did the surveys for the U.S. government. He basically was assigned to put railroads through native land and disestablished Indian reservations and disestablished the way of life and took land and placed native people into reservations. Which in my mind kind of reminds me of internment camps, as they weren't allowed to leave. You were put here and that's the way it was. The railroad under, I'll say his name, Governor Stevens, was battling with the city of Seattle over where to put the northern terminus railroad and Tacoma and Seattle were the sites that were chosen. In the meantime, during all the surveys, they realized that Commencement Bay is one the deeper ports around. And with that, naturally, international trade became a topic for the Eastern millionaires to come out and develop. And so they had to open up the lands. That was quite a period because at that time… and I'll go back to, you know, the 1850s when the Indian wars took place here. And all the battles that took place; the worst took place because the Puyallup people were put over toward Point Defiance on, well, where Point Ruston is today. And they're given a mile square, off the water, off the river. And we're told to live there. No matter the population, no matter what, no matter if there is fish there. It didn't matter. That was where they were going to go. And the natives under Chief Leschi and some other people in Puyallup and the native people in Yakima went to war and the Puget Sound Wars lasted, I'll just say 1850 to 1852 where battles took place. And the natives used guerrilla warfare and did a fine showing for themselves. That led to Stevens coming out to Fox Island and at Fox Island, the Fox Island Treaty Council that took place. We were given a larger reservation. The reservation that should extend from Point Ruston and where the old rez — where they had placed us in the bad place — extended it toward to the 18,000 acres more. So I've always interpreted that that included the city of Tacoma and I still believe that. But there was a tragic fire in Olympia that burned all the records. And, of course, the land people came in and started taking over. The native people were pretty well disorganized and didn't know what to do. So they were put on that reservation, which includes Fife, Milton, Puyallup, out toward northeast Tacoma, in that area. And when that happened, the people — and I'm not being negative toward any people it’s just the way it was — lovingly looked at that Puyallup reservation and needed it to be open. In the meantime. You know, the fishing was taking place and then they did this thing, created the allotment act, which basically divided up the parcel into individual ownership that, I believe, after 10 years they could sell that portion of their property they had. I believe the native Puyallups were given five real estate people to help them sell, even though they couldn't speak English. So you can imagine the travesty that took place as far as losing that land, you know, forever. This land extended to the tide lands of the Port of Tacoma and throughout the area. And it was just havoc for the native people. And at that time civilizing the Puyallup people was an important thing in their minds. I believe just to steal the land and to steal the culture. They were sent to boarding schools where potlatches were made illegal. So the boarding school for the native community was a terrible, terrible disaster. It separated family. It separated relatives. It messed up the entire social structure of the Puyallup people when that took place, as they would be sent out to schools in Chemawa or wherever. To top it off they created this law that you can no longer speak Twulshootseed in the home and if you were caught, the kids would be taken away. And so that was a very strong incentive to not speak that language and have to learn how to speak English. Because kids were just taken away. And in talking to my grandmother and talking about language, she remembers the stories of where they made the decision of not speaking the language. And that's what happened. It was to keep the family structure intact. And of course, that was a major victory for the non-Indian, by forcing natives not to speak their language, to go to their potlucks, not to do anything native. You were being “civilized,” I guess is the word.

Danica Miller:

Hey, this is Danica and I wanted to take a minute to talk about a few of the important policy and laws that affected the Puyallups specifically, though a lot of this is applicable to many Coast Salish nations and even indigenous nations across the now United States. So in 1854, Governor Stevens and his treaty team met with Puyallup, Nisqually, Squaxin Island and many other tribal communities that have now been sort of integrated into other tribal communities in order to sign the Medicine Creek Treaty, which is the treaty that outlines the reservations for Squaxin Island, Puyallup and the Nisqually. About 30 years later, we have the Dawes Act of 1887, also known as the General Allotment Act. And, for anybody who's familiar with the history of federal Indian policy, there's a lot of very detrimental laws and policies aimed at undermining and destroying indigenous peoples and our sovereignties. However, the Dawes Act of 1887 was by far the most detrimental both in terms of land loss and genocide. The Dawes Act took communally-owned indigenous reservation land and cut it into individually-owned allotments in order to “Americanize” indigenous peoples into an American mindset of individual ownership, to commodify the land, to exploit the resources of the land. In the most basic way, we were supposed to turn into farmers. However, what ended up happening is that because the land was cut up into small, small allotments, it was much, much easier to sell. And most of these sales were done either under duress or — which is outright theft, which is what I would say it happened to most of the Puyallup allotments. We do look at the title transfers. There's just so many titles that were sold to the wives of the railroad owners and these sort of things. It's very, very… it's like I said, outright theft. And under the Dawes Act, indigenous nations, when it ended in 1934, had lost more than two thirds of their land base. And what was leftover was mostly desert. So this is something that was detrimental to all indigenous nations in the now U.S. And the last thing I want to talk about is the Boldt decision. So the Puyallup, Nisqually, and many other indigenous peoples of the lower Coast Salish, had been fighting for their fishing rights really since colonization began. But their fight and their resistance, it really began in earnest in about the 1950s, as fish runs started to become severely depleted due to the large industrial canneries that were located throughout the Washington state coast. In what makes no sense at all, the local Coast Salish fishermen were blamed for the lack of fish runs, not the industrial canneries. And local police and game wardens often violently forced Indian fishermen to stop fishing. In response, a resistance movement [developed] where indigenous fishermen were working and purposely fishing in ways that would bring media attention to what were their treaty rights that were being consistently violated by Washington state. You know, feel like I'm doing a disservice to this sort of amazing and beautiful and very long resistance movement by our local Indian fishermen. However, to fast forward, this was really gathering steam within the 1960s and there's a lot of famous photos as the lower Coast Salish really began to work with the media to sort of promote their cause. And by 1970, we have an encampment along the Puyallup River. One of the few pieces of land that had been unceded to the U.S. government, that was still in Puyallup hands, and they were continuing to fight for their fishing rights as well as making a stand that we are here and we can fish. On September 9, 1970 local police and local game wardens attacked the fishing establishment and arrested over 80 men, women and children. One was as young as nine years old, again for fishing, which is explicitly granted within our treaty rights, not to mention within our ancestral sovereignty. In response, the U.S. government filed against Washington state and USB Washington in order to have the Coast Salish fishing rights sort of figured out finally. And this is what's known as the Boldt decision. In 1974, Judge [George] Boldt, the very conservative judge Boldt, much to the astonishment I think of pretty much everyone, granted that according to the words of the Medicine Creek Treaty that all fish, when it says “in common with,” that meant that 50% of the allowable catch goes to local indigenous nations. Which is wonderful and true, again, but usually we're used to the opposite happening in terms of the law and this worked absolutely in our favor. Then our ancestral traditions and again, within our rights and in response, as my dad says, we have some of the worst racist backlash against indigenous fishermen. And the federal government would have to intercede a couple of years later in order to force Washington state to follow Judge Boldt’s ruling. Thank you. When I was writing my dissertation, one of the chapters is on American Indian boarding schools. And I grew up in this highly political family on unceded Puyallup land. Everything that we talked about at the dinner table growing up was always Puyallup history. And still that research that I did on American Indian boarding schools, it broke me. I couldn't, I could barely… I would just get into bed with my kids at night. That was the cruelty of the United States government in implementing that policy is astounding, and it's disgusting. And it's a shame that I think the United States government has never even acknowledged, much less even done anything to rectify.

Bill Sterud:

I think it was a way of getting at the land and getting a way at the deep-water port access to create the shipping terminals. And that was the early plans was to take that away. And one way of doing that was by taking away the language.

Danica Miller:

Yeah. One thing I was thinking a lot about during a canoe journey this last summer and that first day with the landing was one of the most powerful experiences I've had. And it was just so Puyallup centered in a way that I feel that pow-wows aren't always, right? This seemed to be very much what our ancestors did. And it was so amazing to have different, you know, all these sovereign nations recognize the sovereignty of the Puyallup and the Puyallup to recognize their sovereignty. Those hours of the landing, it was beautiful. But it reminds me of what you were just saying about how the obsession of the United States with gaining access to what is now the Port of Tacoma and that was always so, even pre-colonization. Like, that was the Puyallups’ — our — port. That was a terminus then, right? It was an indigenous terminus. That was where everybody came through. Everybody stopped. Like you said, when the tide was out, you gathered up the shellfish and got out some smoked salmon and everything was good and easy, kinda. It was a nice life. Even then it was it was a major… Tacoma was always (what is now Tacoma) that was a major port always, right? It was just an indigenous port before then. And I think it really speaks to the fact that we had a way of having a major indigenous port where all this trade took place, where all these different indigenous nations would come in and trade and eat and inter-marry, right? But it was also really respectful of the land and of the water that was there.

Bill Sterud:

Tacoma people wanted open up those lands for business opportunities. The Port people, you know, I believe the Guggenheims are actually a part of the smelter that used to be over there that spewed out lead, cadmium, zinc, for a hundred years. For a hundred years. I protested against the smelter and actually got to see it blow up.

Danica Miller:

I was with you, remember? [Laughter].

Bill Sterud:

It was a good day.

Danica Miller:

We were out there in the boat.

Bill Sterud:

In the little boat. Freezing.

Danica Miller:

The little boat. It was really cold. Watched it come down.

Bill Sterud:

So we've had to take a very adverse position to this economy around here as far as using pollution to drive this area into some sort of strange economic development. Well, it's still there. There's still polluted areas there. And it's just going to take court battles. It’s just going to take people understanding that water is life. And air is life. So that has to be put into the minds for the future generations, you know. We’ll be battling and battling and battling. But there seems to be an awakening taking place by people on how important clean water is, clean areas. And I believe down the road there will be some massive cleanups and nothing could make me happier than forcing them to.

Danica Miller:

I think you're exactly right. When we talk about…when you say like water is life and killing off all the salmon and the shellfish, that's the same. I think are a metaphor for the Puyallup but a lot of ways. But also it's pretty literal, too. Like, if you're killing salmon, then you're also killing people, right? Not just the Puyallup, all of us, right? This isn't to say that we are… this is bad for everybody. It's not just bad for the fish. It's not bad for the shellfish. It’s that we're all so interconnected that this is just a sign, right? And it's like you said, like this “economic progress” that is on the back of pollution is ridiculous because it's not progress if it's killing a bunch of people and a bunch of animals. It's not like everybody gets rich off these really polluting activities. It's like two people are doing great. But the rest of us who are living with it, it's destroying all sorts of things. And I agree, it seems like there seems to be an awakening of late, but I certainly credit the Puyallup Tribe and they're fighting for the last, always, I guess, with bringing that awakening about. I remember when those were controversial ideas that you would talk about when I was a kid and people were like, ‘well, but we have to have development.’ And it's like, we don't have to have… there's other ways to develop without it ruining our resources. That was too much of a stretch for some people apparently.

Bill Sterud:

So I grew up in a time when Tacoma was called the ‘aroma of Tacoma.’ It was a bad aroma. High grades just had this big pond that they would send out all the waste from whatever meat they were curating, it just went straight into this pond. And then you throw in St. Regis at the time and the stuff they're putting in the air and you could really, really upset your stomach just driving by on the freeway. And I've talked to some people who say they can still smell it or it's some sort of smell they can't get out of their minds. It was bad. But the tragedy of the thing is economic development is here to stay. But you got to create standards. You've got to create laws that make them develop in a good way, and you've got to monitor that. I believe that this is just an extension of the San Juans. The San Juan Islands. You go up there and see how beautiful it is and you just keep coming down, down this area. It's still the San Juan and should have been maintained that way. In fact, it should have been protected more because it’s a reservation. It's got the opportunity to be developed in a clean way. But it's going to take muscle. It's going to take a different way of thinking. It could be a really beautiful area. And I say that to people, that it's beautiful here. It just needs to be cleaned up, but it's going to cost billions of dollars. Where's that money gonna come from? Well, it's got to come from somewhere. But in the meantime, start today. Start developing your projects in a good way that doesn't harm the fish, that doesn't harm the air, that doesn't dirty the water. And I think it's a slow thing that is going to have to happen to make this a livable tourist city. And it could be. And it could be. one thing that we've got at the tribe as these biologists who have worked for us for like… I've been on council for 38 years? Who knows how long I had been, I quit counting. But they've been with me. It's just not the bay, it's the watershed. It starts up on our great mountain and comes down and they know every inch of it, how it can be destroyed, how it can be helped. They're the watchdogs and then they get a hold of us when things are going haywire in their world and we do our best to fix it. So we got some watchdogs watching this entire water area. They know from the mountain to the bay and now, and you know, the salmon don't stop at the bay. If they can survive as fingerlings down that river through a polluted bay, heading up north, there's the Duwamish people, and they’re going up and there's more pollutants. They're going up and they're going up and they're getting bigger and they're also having a hard time surviving. And that's before they get to the ocean, and the ocean, they have dead zones. And so these fish are going right into these dead zones. So it's just not in the bay. It's just not by the mountain. It's the whole ecosystem that's being hurt in a really bad way. And people have to take notice and people have to do something. We put people on the moon, we get the fancy cars, we can do anything we want with our money. Put it into the environment. Time's running out.

Danica Miller:

Yeah. Usually, my dad and I are much more jokey than this. [Laughter]

Bill Sterud:

We make jokes about how dumb they can be and stuff. But there's money being made. There's money being made.

Danica Miller:

Hi, this is Danica again and I'm just going to talk about a few things. First of all, I'm going to talk about Twulshootseed, which is the indigenous language of this area of the Puyallup people, but it was actually spoken all the way down to Nisqually and up to Skagit and pretty much over to the mountains. Twulshootseed was really spoken until about the 1940s, Although genocide, displacement and boarding schools had really drastically reduced the numbers of Twulshootseed speakers, it was really about the 1940s that the U.S. government started threatening and families with taking away their children if they continued to speak Lushootseed in their home. So my grandmother, her native language was Twulshootseed. My father grew up learning only a few curse words in Twulshootseed, so it was eradicated almost completely within a generation. Since then we have the Puyallup Tribal Language Department and a few other really cool different tribal communities have worked in earnest to revitalize Twulshootseed. And at this point I think we have about 90 native fluent speakers. And it's just growing every day. And it's a beautiful thing to be part of and to witness. So to just bring it a little bit towards the founding of UWT and just sort of Tacoma today. I remember, I guess I was in high school maybe when they were talking about putting in UWT, a UW branch in Tacoma. And I remember thinking, why would they do that, right? So can you describe — cause you were there for the founding of UWT — as well as sort of what that whole Pac Ave scene was like back in the founding of UWT?

Bill Sterud:

Number one, I went to University of Washington.

Danica Miller:

That's right.

Bill Sterud:

In sixth grade, I watched them play the Rose Bowl. So I've always been a proud Husky and watched how that educational process can make people better and can teach people to be better people. At the time there are some great… visionaries, I’ll call them… Norm Dicks, the governor, the business community, jumped into this idea. Because Tacoma needed help. That was not a good area. That was not a good area where the University of Washington Tacoma was. And to see it being talked of as a university site was kind of like, how are they going to do this? But I'm thinking of taking down these old buildings, and the UWT has been really good about saving the old buildings that can be saved. So it keeps a part of that history going. I remember driving with you when you were back from school and this trolley goes by and in my mind I'm thinking, ‘good God, with everything that's happening in this town as far as pollutants go, they’ve got the trolley system that’s going.’ And you said this is the best thing that ever happened to Tacoma. And you were right. It created that thought. It created this other momentum as far as, well, maybe it's just not the aroma of Tacoma that can attract people. Maybe there's good things, too. And so the visionaries, I'll call them that, said we're going to put a campus here. And I thought, well, that's a long shot. But instead they worked together and not only worked together on the UWT, but the Thea Foss waterway, that development, it’s right out of a tourist book. And so there's the UWT starting out and who's going to go and where is it going to be? When I was with the groundbreaking of the UWT, there were old railroad tracks. The buildings were in disrepair. And I thought, they've got a long ways to go. But somebody planted a seed and it grew and it grew and it's still growing. What city, what area does not want a good college to be a part of it, to create that atmosphere for education, for making your community better, making your community stronger. And then, you know, I like to be a part of it in my own small ways. Just to remind them that this was the Puyallup reservation you're talking about, that you're a learning on, that you're being taught on and that it can only grow and can only get better. And it wasn't these buildings that were repairing trains or whatever they were doing down there, it was a good clean way of developing Tacoma, and Tacoma kind of changed and is changing with the arrival of the school and in a really good way, in a really good… Education’s gotta be one of the hallmarks of creating good people and good societies and good families.

Danica Miller:

Yeah, I look at… I absolutely 100 percent credit, both UWT and the Puyallup Tribe for everything that has happened in Tacoma, and especially downtown Tacoma.

Bill Sterud:

And, you know, the tribe takes a lot of heat. They’re obstructionists, you know, they don't care about jobs. And of course we care about jobs. We just don't want jobs that kill people. They breathe bad stuff, that pollute the environment and pollute the people that are working in those places. And that's without the UWT jumpstarting this thing along with that waterway I just mentioned. Change started to take place and it's not going to go backwards. It will just go better and better. I'm totally optimistic about that.

Danica Miller:

That’s really good to hear.

Bill Sterud:

No kidding.

Danica Miller:

It's nice to be optimistic about one thing.

Bill Sterud:

I've always been a dreamer. It can get better. It is better.

Danica Miller:

It is.

Bill Sterud:

No UWT what would those buildings be? What would it look like? It would just be this terrible looking part of industrial Tacoma. And it's gone. You know the Thea Foss was a mess and it's gone. And it's beautiful. They’ve got to work that way in all the waterways and do it in a good way as far as the cleanup. Did this one have to be heavy development? You know, like I said, this is a tourist area. It's beautiful and should be developed that way. And the powers that be have to understand that. That the people that are working down there also have families. So maybe their families wanting to go downtown. I believe that there can be parks down there in the middle of the Port of Tacoma. I believe all that can be cleaned up. It's going to take money and it's going to take determination and it's going to take hard work by the powers that be. I'm talking about the city of Tacoma. I'm talking about the Port of Tacoma. I'm talking about the state of Washington. I'm talking about Fife, I'm talking about Milton and I'm talking about Puyallup. They should all be a part of a new way of thinking.

Danica Miller:

And I think that it seems to me — and I know I come from a pretty… sort of live in a bubble — but I do think that we're headed there. I think, maybe?

Bill Sterud:

Oh, I believe we are. It's going to take strong determination and will put out by the governments, by the people, and move in that direction. It's a lot stronger now than I've seen it in my life and I want to keep it that way and I'll do what I have to.

Danica Miller:

So I asked my students today, as I told you earlier, what sort of questions that they would like to ask and they had all sorts, they're so great. It's an intro to indigenous studies class and, for a lot of them, they're deeply interested in the local indigenous history, but they don't know very much. And then the class just really teaches them and they do spend probably the first six weeks with their eyes wide open, not speaking. But now they're much better. And so a lot of the questions that they had, they're deeply interested in making sure that Puyallup history and Puyallup sovereignty is both recognized and also taught in the elementary schools and the local public schools, high schools. How do you think that we should go about that?

Bill Sterud:

Well, education is the key. They have to know that there's a reservation here and they have to understand why. They have to understand that our reservation’s going to be cleaned, there aren't going to be any water being soiled and dirtied. And so it's going to take people to learn not just about the importance of clean air and clean water, but the importance of there is a tribe right in the middle of this that basically had everything taken from them. There isn't much more than a cemetery. There was one court case by Judge Godwin who ruled the reservation doesn't exist, which got overturned at the Ninth Circuit. During that time, the state of Washington [said] well if they don't have a reservation they can't fish. So they took the fishing away as well for the couple of years as that wound its way through the court. We weren't even allowed to go down to the river and fish. So, as you look at that and where we've come and this community has come, has been ice-age slow, but at the same time it's moving in the right direction. The Puyallup people are getting themselves back on their feet. And one of the key ways is through education and our people are getting it. It's imperative that the non-Indian community get it as well. To understand just what this is all about. It's real and this is where it is. And let's work together to make this a community for everybody. Not just the industrialists, but the people that live here. And for the natives that live here. We aren't going anywhere. We haven't gone anywhere. We fought a war. We can kind of call it the “fish wars,” where people were jailed and boats were destroyed and gear was taken but it didn't slow down our people as far as for that dream. Unfortunately, now as we look at the fish returns, which are drastically low, we look at the shellfish industry. Where's it going? So a lot of those key places in our culture are being decimated and like the area out in the ocean, they don't even know what it is. They just go out there and die. So the object is, and I think we have three or four fish hatcheries, we have our guard dogs that are watching every development, watching anything that go wrong within our drainage area to make sure that we can do what we can to stop that. And I think that our voice has been loud and clear and will continue to be loud and clear. It isn't going to stop. We're just going to be out there at the forefront, fighting for our environment because it’s part of our culture, it’s part of our treaty, it's part of the future. It's all there.

Danica Miller:

Well, so you just gestured towards talking about both the treaty wars and the fish wars, which I think you mentioned. The treaty wars is a thing when I teach my students about the treaty wars, they're like, what is that? When was this? Then also you were talking about the fish wars. But I think one of the things that you've really taught me is the sort of unbelievable history and resistance that were the fish wars, but also once we have the Boldt decision, that actually the fish wars just really had to even become the resistance. The Puyallup even had to do more after the Boldt decision because of the resistance against the Boldt decision. People were so angry that the Puyallup had won the right to fish, that it became even worse.

Bill Sterud:

So here was this court decision that gave us… well, we had never lost and we'll never lose this opportunity to catch half the fish. And it actually says the sound and the river. So here was that decision, the Judge Boldt decision. Well, the state of Washington refused to enforce it. So what do you do then? So you have the big purse seiners out there fishing and catching the fish in violation of this law. And so it really wasn't taken seriously until the US. Supreme Court said, ‘yeah, they have that right. Implement it.’ In fact, I believe one of the judges called it, that no court decision has been ignored like this except the Board of Education in the Brown decision. That they couldn't believe it, that the U.S. Supreme Court felt the state of Washington wasn't enforcing a lower district court order. So even with the law on our side, it was being ignored by the entire state of Washington. So I had during that time it was a mess. It was a mess for racism and gave an opportunity to put down native people protecting their treaty right. And so that in the meantime, fishing never stopped on the river. You know, I always had salmon to eat and it was all done by secrecy. But we knew it was okay and it was proven out to be okay. So where have the fish runs gone? Well, they're in bad shape right now. The water is in bad shape. The environment is in bad shape. All that is a necessary ingredient to have healthy stocks returning to their fishing areas. And it's not happening. So there's a long ways to go just in that alone, in managing our fishery.

Danica Miller:

Well, Dad, as you know, I'm working very closely with the Puyallup Language Department. Big props to my cousin and your niece, Amber Sterud, who does amazing work with helping revitalize Twulshootseed. And, of course, [inaudible] we have the Twulshootseed Language Institute every summer at UWT which Puyallup Tribal Council, if I remember correctly, asked the Puyallup Language Department to have me put together. And I was like, ‘Oh, you know, I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm super excited to be part of it.’ And so can you speak to sort of that revitalization of Twulshootseed?

Bill Sterud:

It's been amazing. You go back to when you lost your kids for speaking Twulshootseed. Think about that, you know, the horror of that. And then to see it coming back here. And I don't know what year this is anymore [laughter] cause I've been around for so long. This has done nothing but my heart proud. It's fun. And to see the people work, it's a hard language.

Danica Miller:

Ugh, it is.

Bill Sterud:

I grew up in a family that would speak a few words every so often. They'd slip out. And I remember those days that was fun. Uncle Don Matheson and the people over all around are watching this and thinking about the same thing. And I think it's just not us. The university saw some value to it as well. They made it a part of it. And so the change is coming from the younger generation as far as how they're viewing the world and how they want the world to be. And it's an important voice, an important voice that has to be heard and will be heard. Because in not too long, it'll be them making these decisions on how they want to be, how they want to live, and where they want to live. You know, this is no longer the aroma of Tacoma. You know, it's a vibrant community that needs some help environmentally. And I see all of that down the road.

Danica Miller:

I remember just growing up and you know, you and Rube, just saying ‘ hoyt ’ to each other. [Laughter]

Bill Sterud:

And that was Big Rube, right? Senior. That was one of the heroes of the fishing rights struggle and he spoke a lot of Puyallup and believed in a lot of the old ways. I was a lucky man to be his good friend for all my life.

Danica Miller:

You know, I look at whenever I'm doing archival work and stuff and going through the papers. Rube comes up a lot. Sort of like the quiet voice in the corner, right? That's the man that I remember for sure, but never, never taking center stage. You know, he was always… he was a gentleman, for sure.

Bill Sterud:

Total gentlemen and super intelligent. And a hard worker. Miss him.

Danica Miller:

Yeah. Yeah. I wish I had… I had a lot of questions for him, now that I'm getting older.

Bill Sterud:

I remember we were out in the river fishing and he brought in a bullhead, which is a small little, I think they call him sculpins. It’s only five inches long. And he said ‘Oh, we're going to have a good day.’ And I look at the little bullhead as we call them. And then I thought, ‘Okay….’ He says, ‘That's my tomanis[?]. That's my power.’ And I am not kidding. As he's sitting in the boat with me and he's taking the fish out and he let it go. It turned his face to look like that sculpin. That happened. I saw it. It was very cool. And that was part of the old ways. And we did really well that day. We were high vote. That happened.

Danica Miller:

Wow. That's amazing. So the final question is what are some cool things the Puyallup Tribe’s doing these days? If you can narrow it down to like…

Bill Sterud:

It’s all we said, you know, to protect the fishery, to create a good healthcare system, to create a good school system to move forward in this community takes money. Takes economic development on our own. Good clean economic development. And you know, we've done well in gaming. Our individuals that have smoke shops do well. And we have opportunities down in the port that we haven't delved into yet. But we also have a $500 million casino that's going up on I-5 and Portland Avenue there. That'll increase hopefully our revenues, but also maybe make people think maybe Tacoma is a tourist area. Maybe we should change how we look at this town, this city, this region. It's beautiful and can be even more beautiful. But it's all necessary enough to pay for education costs. Our cancer clinic that anybody can go to. Our cannabis stores, you know, and I've always been a proponent of that, but I see it as a medicine, a medicine that can be a cure-all. And, unfortunately, the U.S. government has stymied research into that medicine. And so we're getting kind of a late start in it, but it's there now and operating now. There's revenue being made for that, but I think it's a great medicine. We have the other casino down there in Fife. So we're just kind of doing what we can to provide a good life for our people.

Danica Miller:

I'll just finish off by saying that again, I grew up with all of these stories from you and my elders and my aunties and cousins. And I'm always so grateful and always so astounded by just like what you said, that the city of Tacoma, Washington state and the United States government did everything that they could to take us down, to erase us. And everything that we do, everything that I see the tribe doing today, it just speaks to how powerful our people have been and we’re unable to be erased. And it's astounding. And I'm consistently just overwhelmed and grateful for it.

Maria C.:

Thank you to our guests and a big thank you to our senior lecturer, Nicole Blair, for letting us play your music on the show. Thank you to Moonyard Recording Studio. And thank you for joining us today.