Boldt 40 Ledger
The Boldt 40 Ledger is a written and drawn image commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the historic decision by Judge Boldt in the Washington vs. US. The Decision affirmed the right to half of the fishing harvest to the tribal nations who were signers to several notable Treaties. Every signature on this 1890 Ledger Paper from the Washington Southern Railroad has a heartfelt interest in the Fishing Rights Struggle. This decision was important not only to Pacific Northwest Tribes, but also to tribes nationwide.
Each signature has a red circle before their name, symbolic of the salmon egg representing the rebirth of activism. The very first signature is Billy Frank Jr., who was a major catalyst in this struggle. Billy’s legacy is as important to the tribes of Washington as Sitting Bull, Red Cloud and Crazy Horse were to the tribes in South Dakota. Also in attendance were Governor Jay Inslee, Senator Claudia Kaufman and Hank Adams.
The Train is drawn to symbolize a syringe to represent the inoculation of the American Indian by the U.S. education system to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man”. The Indian inside the salmon resists this by breaking off the needle tip. The needle tip is then drawn to represent other kinds of power—canoe and the feather pen (used to sign the Treaties). The Paddler could be any Indian, or it could represent the main catalyst to the fishing rights battle, Billy Frank Jr. (Nisqually, Puyallup).
The male element is represented by the man and paddle, and the female element is represented by the salmon and egg. When the two meet, then the embryo of the salmon in the egg is born. This represents Indian Activism, which reignited pride with the American Indian People of the 60’s and 70’s as well as future generations.
This struggle is parallel with the struggle of the Plains Indian and the killing of over 20 million across the Plains. The train brought about this destruction and so-called progress. The image of the salmon could just as well be that of a buffalo, halting the train. Robert “Running Fisher” Upham, the artist, says that this art is part of him being a “Witness” to history. The NW Pacific Tribes received help from many tribes, include Plains tribes. For instance, Hank Adams (Dakota), Plains Indian, signature #4, was one of the right hands to Billy during his entire life fighting for fishing rights.
The Seahawk resemblance is inserted because on this day, February 5 2015, some of the participants at the Boldt 40 celebration also went into Seattle to celebrate in the Super Bowl parade for the 2014 NFL World Champion Seahawks. Ramona Bennett spoke at the event and referred to the Boldt 40 Anniversary Celebration as “Our” Super Bowl Celebration.