Janet McCloud, 69; Helped Indian Tribes Win ‘Fish Wars’

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Janet McCloud, 69, an American Indian activist prominent in the “fish wars” that led to a federal court ruling guaranteeing tribes in Washington half the state’s salmon and steelhead trout catch, died Tuesday in Yelm, Wash., of complications from diabetes.

McCloud was born on the Tulalip Reservation in Washington.

With the 1960s came her awakening to Indian civil rights, and she and her husband and children settled near the Nisqually Reservation in Yelm.

In 1962, five members of various tribes were arrested on the banks of the Nisqually River by state game wardens despite treaties with the federal government that guaranteed fishing and hunting rights to Indians on their traditional tribal lands.


This incident raised the stakes in the debate over fishing rights. McCloud and her husband, Don, founded the activist group Survival of American Indians Assn. In defiance of court orders, members began staging demonstrations called “fish-ins.” These events attracted activists such as Dick Gregory and Marlon Brando.

After a 12-year struggle, a federal judge upheld the provisions of the treaties that entitled the Indians to half the salmon and steelhead catch in Washington.