David Sohappy, Sr. "Tucknashut" (átwai)

David Sohappy, Sr. Image courtesy of Yakama Nation Review.


Átwai (the late) David Sohappy Sr. was a strong advocate of Indian treaty rights. He was taught by his father to "Never give up." Tucknashut and his family have a long history of being involved with fishing on the Columbia River. This includes carrying on the teaching to be providers and willing to share with others. When you provide for the people, the Creator will reward you. 

David Sohappy Sr. was known to lead fishing rights. He and his family were targeting for fishing through a federal sting operation known as SalmonScam, in which the federal government sent David, a WWII Veteran, to one of the toughest prisons in the U.S.   

 Tom Keefe, Sohappy's Attorney

The federal government came for him twice: they came once when he was a young man, with his hair long in a braid as it had been his whole life, and they said "Greetings, Uncle Sam wants you." So he went, and he cut the braid and he went into the army, and he did his duty for his country. When he came back, he went back to doing what he had been doing before. Than he was targeted for fishing. David, along with other fishers led the fight to continue fishing as Yakamas had since time immemorial. He knew it was not fair, and he knew that it was offensive to the religion that has been passed down through his family for generations, and he knew that it violated that religion. He knew it violated the treaty, and he knew it violated the customs and traditions of the Yakama tribe. 

Source: Tom Keefe, David Sohappy attorney. April 13, 1987

In 1988, Senator Inouye met with Sohappy to discuss the sentencing.

"Yesterday I was comparing some of the sentencing schedules for crimes committed in this state," Inouye said. "...As a member of the United States Senate, I find this intolerable."

Source: Sohappy has faith in senator. The Spokesman-Review Mar. 7. 1988.

David is featured in the following: