Robert Satiacum

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Robert (Bob) Satiacum (1929– March 25, 1991) was a Puyallup tribal leader, convicted felon, and an advocate of native treaty fishing rights in the United States. He was convicted of attempted murder and other charges in 1982, but fled to Canada to avoid a prison term. He was later convicted of child molestation in Canada in 1989. [1]

Satiacum was a 1947 graduate of Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington, where he was a star athlete.[2] He first came to the public attention in 1954, when he was arrested for illegally fishing in the Puyallup River in Tacoma, Washington. Satiacum was convicted, but the Washington State Supreme Court overturned the conviction. This led to years of legal wranglings over the issue, as well as to "fish-ins" by Satiacum and his cadre of celebrity supporters (most notably Marlon Brando, who was arrested with him on March 2, 1964).

This ultimately culminated in the historic Boldt Decision, which held that treaties signed with native tribes and the federal government in the 1850s entitled the tribes to fifty percent of the total fish harvest.

Satiacum was prominent the 1970 action at Seattle's Fort Lawton that resulted in the creation of United Indians of All Tribes and ultimately of the Daybreak Star Cultural Center.[3]

In the 1980s, Satiacum ran afoul of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for selling cigarettes illegally. He was convicted, but fled to Canada before he could be sent to prison. Satiacum was re-arrested in Canada but in 1987, he became the first U.S. citizen to be granted refugee status in Canada. This decision was later reversed by the Federal Court of Canada.

He died in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1991, following his arrest on a warrant.


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OTHER ARTICLES: “Satiacum sues IRS for removal of liens, return of money,” The Tacoma News Tribune, December 2, 1981

“Satiacum to be tried in absentia,” Ellensburg Daily Record, December 31, 1982,9061387

“Satiacum captured by Mounties,” Spokane Chronicle, November 9, 1983,2264610

“Satiacum fears stay in U.S. jail,” The Spokesman Review, June 17, 1986,436901

“Satiacum wins fight for refugee status in Canada,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, July 14, 1987

“Satiacum faces sexual assault on girl charge,” Spokane Chronicle, May 26, 1988,1490536

“Satiacum says Canada part of U.S. conspiracy,” Tri City Herald, November 14, 1989,7204495

“B.C. Tribe gives sanctuary to Satiacum,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, November 18, 1989

“Satiacum may fight Seattle convictions,” The Spokesman-Review, March 23, 1991,1585157

“Satiacum to get ‘chief’s burial’,” Ellensburg Daily Record, March 26, 1991,2682184

 “Robert Satiacum, 62, Fugitive Tribal Figure,” The New York Times, March 27, 1991

“-Robert Satiacum,” Orlando Sentinel, March 27, 1991

“* Robert Satiacum; Indian Activist Became Fugitive,” Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1991

Legal documents:

414 US 1 Satiacum v. Washington, 94 S.Ct.209 38 L.Ed.2d 1, No. 72-552. Supreme Court of the United States, October 15, 1973

United States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Donald Tille, Defendant-appellant.United States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Raymond William Burrows, Jr., Defendant –appellant, United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. – 729 F.2d 615, Argued and Submitted Feb. 6, 1984. Decided March 29, 1984 or

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