Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge Honors Past, Builds Future

The Puyallup Tribe of Indians and the City of Tacoma are holding a dedication of the Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge, formerly known as the Puyallup River Bridge, on Friday, Aug. 9.

The dedication acts as a recognition of the battle that took place on the site in the 1960s and 1970s. Puyallup Tribe fishermen were attempting to exercise their right to fish when they were arrested, beaten, and violently removed from the area. It wasn’t until a federal court hearing reaffirmed the Tribe’s treaty rights in 1974 that the Tribe was able to safely return to their customary practices.

Due to collaboration from the Tribe’s Planning, Language, and Historic Preservation departments with the City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Committee, the Tacoma City Council voted to rename the bridge on May 21.

“Naming this bridge after the Fishing Wars will help future generations know what happened here,” said Puyallup Tribal Council Chairman David Z. Bean. “But it is also symbolic of bridging our past with our present and our future, and of bridging our communities.”

The Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge is actually only one of the two new names given to the bridge. The other is the Twulshootseed word “yabuk’ʷali”: “place of a fight.”

The dedication event will take place from 10–11 a.m. at the Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge. Parking is limited, so a shuttle will be offered with pick up from the Tacoma Dome, Lot G. Tribal leaders and Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards will speak at the event.

“When I took office, I knew that I would be responsible for developing important intergovernmental relationships,” Woodards said. “I did not anticipate the deep honor I would feel to be a part of strengthening the relationship between the Puyallup Tribe and the City of Tacoma by addressing the wounds of the past and creating a better future.”

The Puyallup Tribe of Indians is a sovereign nation of more than 5,000 members and is one of the largest employers in Pierce County. The Tribe has occupied the shores of the Puget Sound since before it was called the Puget Sound, and is committed to ensuring sustainability for future generations in the region.

The Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge is currently closed for repairs, but is anticipated to open this fall. For more information about the event, contact Puyallup Tribe’s Jennifer Keating at Jennifer.M.Keating@puyalluptribe-nsn.gov or (253) 382-6073.

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