Wenatchee's North 40 Productions has been working on a documentary called “Fish War.”

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The subject? Fishing rights for Indigenous tribal members in Washington. 

The backstory of Fish War involves a 1974 court decision where a federal judge upheld Indigenous fishing rights in Washington, that ended clashes with law enforcement. 

This important decision set the stage for environmental stewardship. The documentary explores the ongoing legal and environmental impacts since the '60s.

“Fish War” recently premiered at the 2024 Seattle International Film Festival. 

It will be shown here in the Wenatchee Valley, this coming week - Thursday night, June 27th at the Numerica Performing Arts Center. 

Two members of Wenatchee's North 40' Productions, Jeff Ostenson and Charles Atkinson, stopped by earlier this week to discuss the film.

North 40 Productions
(L to R) Charles Atkinson, Aly, Jeff Ostenson, Connor

Connor: Jeff Ostenson, how did you and your longtime North 40 collaborators, Charles Atkinson and Skylar Wagner stumble upon the subject matter of the Washington state government cutting off fishing access to the indigenous communities?

North 40 Productions:  North Forty has been working with the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for more than a decade helping member tribes share their stories with a non-tribal audience. Our goal has been to show how treaty fishing rights are good for everyone who lives in the Northwest. Early 2023, the Commission wanted to do something significant around the 50th anniversary of the court case you mentioned before, what some people call the “Boldt Decision” of 1974. We all agreed that a feature documentary was the best way to share this important piece of Washington State history fully. 

Connor: How long did it take your team to research, shoot, edit, and produce?

N 40:The entire process from the word “go” took exactly 12 months. We spent about two months researching and developing the story. We filmed for around 4 months over the summer and fall all over Western Washington, then edited all the content for around five months. 

Connor: What were some of the most surprising details that came up in your discussions with tribal members, concerning the Fish War?

N 40: One of the things that I find remarkable is that after all of the things that have been done to the Indigenous People of the NW, they continue to fight to save salmon and all the other critters and the environment, for everyone. In fact, they are leading this fight. 

Connor:  I just learned of the Indigenous Roots and Reparation Foundation (IRRF) an indigenous-led nonprofit, that preserves history, culture, traditions, and language. How can we show our support for this organization?

N 40: The first step, in my opinion, is to simply learn more about them. Come to the screening, their Executive Director and Board Chair will be sharing a little bit about their organization. Go to their website. Lot’s of good info there. Talk to their board. 

Connor: Anything else you'd like to add?

Jeff Ostenson:  I definitely want to encourage people to come out to see Fish War at the PAC. This documentary film shares a piece of Washington State history that seemingly very few people are aware of but plays such an important role in the fight to save salmon and protect all the beautiful and natural things about our state that most of us care deeply about. 

Thanks to North 40 Productions for taking the time to come in and share more on this powerful documentary. 

If you'd like to see this film here in Wenatchee - reserve your tickets online.


A documentary by NW Treaty Tribes Media and North 40 Productions

Thursday, June 27th @ 7 pm

Wenatchee’s Numerica Performing Arts Center.

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