The ruling by Judge George Hugo Boldt of the United States Federal District Court , in what was to become the landmark "Boldt Decision" of 1974, did not translate into social acceptance of treaty fishing rights. Boldt's ruling, along with earlier cases, upheld the legality of treaty fishing rights. However, it was Judge Boldt's interpretation of treaty language to mean that tribes were entitled to "half" of the harvestable catch that led non-Indians, especially sport fishers, to lash out with protests, including burning Judge Boldt in effigy outside the federal courthouse. Political cartoons reflected the public's sentiment, fueled by racism and ignorance of treaty rights.
"Well, fish buyers who had pretended to have good relations with such fisheries as the
. . . , they said. . . , 'We aren't going to sell your fishermen gasoline anymore from our docks. We aren't going to supply ice for the fish that you take into the
of your boats.'
And so there was all these things and the state of Washington stood behind them on that, saying, 'Well, the Boldt Decision isn't really in effect until the Supreme Court upholds it.'"
"Yeah, well, the Boldt Decision, it was very difficult because there was just this intensity of hate. People would spit on you. And yell at you, and call you names."
"He [Judge Boldt] was threatened, he was harassed, but his case went all the way to the Supreme Court and was upheld. And what Judge Boldt did and what the Supreme Court did was not give rights in those cases, they affirmed them. In other words, they said these rights are there."