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Our Tribal Responsibilities and Partners

Spokane Tribe with USFWSTrust Responsibilities to Native American Tribes are described by the Indian Trust Doctrine, which was developed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The doctrine articulates the trust responsibility that the Federal Government has in relation to Native Americans.
  • Tribal Trust

    Tribal woman

    Under Secretarial Order 3206 (signed by both the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce), American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, it is recognized that the USFWS has trust responsibilities with respect to tribes. We are committed to our Tribal Trust Responsibilities to Native American Tribes as described by the Indian Trust Doctrine, developed in 1973 by the US Supreme Court and mandated in Secretarial Order #3206. The doctrine describes the trust responsibility that the Federal Government has in relation to Native Americans: in essence, a legal obligation to act in the Tribe's best interests, including duties to protect Tribal lands, fishing and hunting rights, and cultural and natural resources Secretarial Order 3206...

  • Tribal Fishing at Leavenworth NFH

    Tribal fishing platformsAdult salmon returning to Leavenworth NFH are an important component of tribal fisheries activities. The focus of the fishery is the large pool located below the LNFH spillway. The character of the river here provides access to construct traditional scaffolds and fishing platforms. This fishery is important to tribal members as one of the few remaining places in Washington State that offers a productive fishing opportunity utilizing traditional methods.

    Read about the history of Tribal fishing in Washington State (Oregon Historical Society article by Fronda Woods)...
  • Tribal Foods Program

    Excessing salmon to tribes

    Each of our hatcheries has a specific number of salmon needed to provide eggs and milt for a new generation of fish. Sometimes adult salmon return in greater numbers than we need. Anything above what is essential for our operations is given to the tribes or to other partners.

    In 2010, Winthrop NFH (WNFH) and Methow Fish Hatchery (MFH) began raising spring Chinook collaboratively through a "stepping stone" conservation model. (Learn more about how the stepping stone conservation model works.) One of the many benefits of the stepping stone model is the ability for WNFH to host a tribal foods program, where returning adult spring Chinook that are not needed for spawning can be donated to local tribes.

    WNFH’s returning adult salmon are rarely used in hatchery spawning operations and are undesirable on the natural spawning grounds in most years. MFH uses wild spring Chinook for its broodstock, while WNFH uses spring Chinook reared at MFH for its broodstock. The stepping stone path ends here: returning WNFH adults aren’t spawned in the hatchery. Instead, these fish are donated to local tribes during the peak of the run, when they’re still in the best condition for human consumption. WNFH often surpluses Chinook weekly in May, June, and even July of each year.

    The adult spring Chinook salmon donated to the tribes each year are part of the USFWS’s duty to maintain and uphold the agency’s tribal trust obligations, as well as Grand Coulee Dam mitigation responsibilities. Through the tribal foods program, WNFH ensures that local tribes still have access to a traditional food source for ceremonial and subsistence purposes, thereby maintaining a link to their cultural heritage. From 2010 to 2017, WNFH has donated 220,090 pounds of salmon.


  • Working Together

    Salmon for Chief Joseph Hatchery

    The Yakama Nation is working to help build populations of coho salmon. They raise coho at Leavenworth NFH, while at Winthrop, our hatchery raises coho on their behalf. They also have a project under way at WNFH to recondition female steelhead. Read about the kelt reconditioning project...

    The Confederated Tribes of the Colville run Chief Joseph Hatchery, the final hatchery built to mitigate for the impact of the Grand Coulee Dam. During the intense summer heat of 2015, when hundreds of thousands of spring Chinook salmon fingerlings at Leavenworth NFH were at risk, Chief Joe provided an alternate, temporary home for 250,000 of them. Read the story here...

Last Updated: October 9, 2014
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