By Manuel Nikel-Zueger
This Policy Series challenges a popular romantic myth--the idea that Native Americans had little regard for property rights. The experience of Native American salmon fishing off the northwestern coast of the United States and the southwestern coast of Canada refutes this notion. Many of these Native American fisheries were based on exclusive rights to fishing sites, which made possible a sustainable system of salmon fishing.
"Saving Salmon the American Indian Way" discusses the nature of Native American property rights in the salmon fisheries, the decline in property rights protection following white settlement, and the resulting regulatory structure that exists today. It proposes some changes that could restore property rights to today's fisheries in order to protect the salmon runs.
Manuel Nikel-Zueger wrote this essay while he was a research associate with PERC, where his studies focused on property rights, fisheries, and energy. He has a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Arizona and spent a season in Alaska gillnetting and processing salmon.