The passing of Sen. Daniel Inouye is a loss for his state and nation, as especially for our own state, in which he took a very special interest over the years. He was a dear friend to both Sens. Warren Magnuson and Henry “Scoop” Jackson, and as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, a staunch champion of tribal sovereignty and respect for treaty rights. His personal involvement was crucial in crafting the Puyallup Tribal Land Settlement Act. I think it is safe to say that Indian tribes across America never had a better and more powerful friend and ally than Sen. Daniel Inouye.
I will never forget the time I accompanied Inouye to the Geiger Correctional Facility in Spokane on March 7, 1988, where he visited with my clients, the imprisoned Indian fishing rights leader David Sohappy Sr. and his son. By the sheer force of his presence behind a barbed wire fence, Inouye made their case a national issue, and helped bring to an end the years of bitter and angry discord over treaty fishing rights that had plagued our state for over a century. Daniel Inouye was truly a warrior turned peacemaker.