When did you begin working as a mediator or conciliator at CRS?
Different dates for each of those. As a conciliator, July 1967. As a mediator, July of 1975.
When did you leave the agency?
What were you doing prior to joining CRS?
Each of these is going to raise more questions. You realize what you're letting yourself in
for? I was a consultant in Southern Africa, through the Church Center for the United Nations at
New York City.
And what did that job entail? Give us a background.
I would be presenting current developments and interpreting the dynamics that were
involved. I would explain why these actions were being taken by various parties in southern
Africa and, in particular, churches in southern Africa. They had taken particular reference to
what was then southern Rhodesia.
What was your background?
In college? Undergraduate work which was political science.
So most of the job description, while your were working with this
agency, had to do with conflict management or civil rights, is that correct?
No, not all.
Were you involved with any other civil rights or conflict
For five years, I did human rights work in southern Africa. That was preceding the work at
the Church Center for the United Nations.
What was it that attracted you to CRS?
When I came back from overseas, the New Society had developed a whole range of civil
rights agencies that I had never heard of. For me this was a matter of becoming acquainted with
as many of these as possible in a short period of time. Ultimately, pursuing and focusing on
HEW, office of civil rights for one. The Community Relations Service with the Justice
Department attracted my attention, because I felt like there was a need to go beyond the legal
measure that had evolved under law of civil rights legislation. To get implementation, it
ultimately comes down to working issues out at the local, community level. That's a position
that I held for many years. Regardless of what state and federal government did.
We want you to get a little bit more specific and tell us about a typical case that you were
involved in while you were at CRS. We want you to walk us through the entire process; how it
came to your attention, what you did, did you have a game plan, who did you talk to? Walk us
Excuse me if I interrupt you, but I've been working in human rights since 1954, in Alabama
initially, then 1961 in Southern Africa. That earlier experience was very informative for me. I
just want to slide that in, it didn't start in 1967, or 1961 even. You're interested in the
dynamics of a selected case?
Right, I want you to pick a case that you were personally involved
that you can sort of walk us through your involvement. We don't have anything in mind that we
want you to specifically talk about. An interesting case and something that you can give detail
about. After we do this, then we're going to go back and ask more general questions. We'll end
up talking about a lot of different cases, but it often helps people get to a level of detail that we're
Among the cases that came to my mind, that I thought were significant and showed the
dynamics and so on, was the Indian treaty fishing case, the first one of these that I had handled.
It deals with some of the difficulties we are confronted with in being able to develop mediation.
This is distinctive. It's unlike labor management. This is a characteristic of what we are
sometimes involved with. Another case is one in which questionable police actions generated
community response and a coalition was formed to provide the community input in the
mediation, and that in turn, evolving into an ongoing entity for dispute resolution in this area.
That's a criminal justice issue. The other case I referred to was a mixture of criminal justice and
treaty rights. Another one would be an education case, where a school board was faced with a
paralysis, a standoff, and had to act, but for legal reasons could not act because of actions taken
by the community and how we were able to work through that case to resolution. One is Indian
treaty rights, another is school related, the third is criminal justice issues and all three are kind of
complex and they led to a long succession of developments.
Is there a fourth?
Well, there's a half dozen here, but I think those might provide dynamics that would be of a
little more interest.
I think I'd be inclined to suggest the Indian fishing rights. We've heard a little bit about that
kind of thing from Ed Howden, but nobody else has talked about that. A lot of people have
talked about excessive use of force. We've heard a lot of stories on that already. We haven't
heard that much about education either, so you might want to touch on that. But I'm intrigued
with the Indian one.
This was about 1977 in Seattle. I received a call from a tribal attorney, for the Squackson
Island Indian Tribe, saying that members of this tribe were being harassed and assaulted, and
even shot at. There is a particular island, where they have treaty fishing rights. It was an usual
and accustomed fishing place even though it's completely off of the reservation. But, this was a
traditional area, and treaties specify that they had a right to harvest fish in such locations. As I
went down and met with the attorney and tribal chairperson and the fishery's chair, I eventually
came out with a long list of issues that had developed in this case. One issue was the vandalism
of boats and motors, gasoline supplies, fishing equipment, and cutting of nets by local residents,
especially when they were not there. The Indian tribe had to leave the equipment on the island
shore while they were away. The island was all owned as private property, and most of the
owners had retired. It's connected by a land bridge, to the mainland. But the Indians traveled by
boat to their tribal center.
Anyway, their equipment was vandalized and they were being harassed while they were there.
The result was that they were reaching the point where there was arming of the waters, as they
put it. Indians were bringing firearms onto their boats, weapons to protect themselves. One
recent example had been that someone on land had shot at a boat and hit a mast, just above the
head of one of the tribal fisherman. Another example of what had happened is that they had
accessed the waterfront area of private homes and had been shouted at, ordered off of the land,
stating that, "This is private property. You don't own this. This is my land. I bought this."
Words to this effect. Dogs were being released to attack the Indian fishermen. These were the
main issues that had been raised in that first visit
and in my talking with the Indian leadership. Then I got the names of persons, as far as I could,
who were the alleged perpetrators of these kinds of acts. I wanted their identification, and what
they had done about these on their own.
'They had done,' meaning what the Indians had done?
Yeah, every aspect of their involvement that I could find, plus the extent of communication
with the land owners and so on. And then I went to the island and began to make contacts with
people there, starting with some of the people that they had mentioned. I asked, "What is your
understanding of what's going on? Why is this happening?" Why and when. They referred to
the Indians trespassing on private property, refusing to leave when ordered to do so by the
owners of the land. Not only had they individually suffered from this, but neighbors, they say, in
this particular bay, had complained of the same thing. And there had been some shouting
matches back and forth. Abusive language, dangerous precedents being established. Among the
charges were, Indian fishermen set up their nets indiscriminately, wherever they wanted to.
These would be float nets out in the bay. According to Coast Guard regulations, they're to be lit
at all times. At night, you can't see the nets. "And last week, a man came into the bay after
dark," and according to some reports, he may have been under the influence of alcohol, "and his
boat hit one of the nets and the boat capsized and he drowned. And we've had enough of this."
That kind of attitude.
Did you have any trouble reading credibility with the land owners when you went over
Was there anybody who was suspicious of you, or didn't want to talk to you?
Oh, I think everybody that I contacted initially was suspicious of me. You had a lot of
conflicts on the water itself. In Puget Sound, the State Department of Fisheries had
confrontations in their small boats with sport fishermen in their large, fast boats. There had been
one death there. The State Department of Fisheries enforcement officer had shot and killed the
owner and operator of a large cabin cruiser that was bearing down on him at a high speed,
allegedly. All of this is in reaction to the boat decision. Federal Court Judge Bolt issued a
landmark decision stating that Indians had a right to fishing common. Which means, they were
entitled to 50/50 catch of salmon in the Puget Sound area. If the Indians are not necessarily
equipped to catch as many fish or salmon as the fisherman were equipped to fish, that's too bad.
They have to hold back.
The commercial fisherman had to hold back?
When you say 50/50, that means the commercial fisherman get 50% of the catch?
Shall not take more than 50% of the catch.
And the Native Americans?
If the fishermen take a certain amount, then they have to stop fishing. The Indian tribal
fisherman, they did not have the equipment, the gill netters, the persaniers, or some of these very
expensive ships and larger fishing boats. They couldn't acquire fish as quickly as their rights
said that they could. So all that created tension. That's the background of feelings in this. But
what we're talking about here is rights of access, through private property, in order for the treaty
rights to be exercised. As the Decision of 1911 put it, if Indians cannot access the water to
exercise their fishing rights, then their right is being denied them. Therefore, they have a
common law easement through private property to get to the waterfront, and in this case, the
Indians were taking that to include if there's a dock there, then they have the right to go out on
that dock and set their net on the end of that dock. I think all of the landlords were white, that I
know of, but some of them complained about the Indians sleeping in the boats of the landowners,
which are tied up at their dock, and leaving them a mess. Littering, defecating in public, in front
of school children on their way to school, catching the school bus going up the street. They
complained of loud music being played on radios when they camped out.
Did you ever witness any of this?
No. It's all he said, they said and so on.
What did you do to gain access to the homeowners since they were
distrustful of you?
Excellent question. Well, they wanted to do something about these Indians who were
trespassing on their private property. "We've called the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, and at
first they would come out in response to our calls, and since then, they've refused to come out.
They say they don't know what the law is relating to this." Which is, I think, an honest answer.
This is a Twilight Zone in that area, where a law was to be made. And of course, nobody's ever
heard of that 1911 decision. But there was a major problem.
So with you being from the Department of Justice, do you think the homeowners thought
you had the answer?
Well, I probably represented some kind of an authority to them. They may have thought that
I might be able to do something about these people, because the federal government has a special
responsibility for Indian Welfare.
Were there any key people that wouldn't meet with you?
I don't remember any key people who did not. But my problem that I immediately
encountered from the very beginning, was that I realized when I started asking questions about
the island and the community, there is no incorporated town on it. That's obvious. There were
no formal community institutions except the historical society. That's the only club, and there
were two small churches, but otherwise, there were no organizations that I could involve,
including no mayor. The marine patrol of the Pierce County Sheriff's Office was the nearest
thing to access law enforcement. There's no precinct on the island, of course.
What's the approximate population of the island?
I knew at the time, but maybe a thousand people. But not all were waterfront, necessarily, as
you would assume.
How big of an island is this?
About six to eight miles long and maybe one to two miles wide. One end of which is joined
to the land. You know, there was a small State Park with a boat launch at one end of it. That
turned out later to be a crucial role.
Did you inform all parties that you were
coming on sight before you actually got on sight? Did they know that you were coming, or did
you just show up?
Well, the tribal officials, they knew I was coming. They asked that I come and I said, "Yes, I
would come." I had to go find the others, the residents on the island. I had a description of
where they lived or where the incident took place, that sort of thing. One or two names were
known, and the others were not.
So did you just go up and start knocking on doors?
Exactly. I went to the area where I understood that they were talking about.
This was a sharp contrast to the kinds of mediation that I was doing.
Here, my task was to organize. I became a community organizer in order to have a bona fide,
representative party composed of persons who would represent the interests of the people on the
island. That needed to include those who were creating problems, as well as others
who might provide some answers and positive leadership. That was what I was aiming at.
A person that I made an early contact with was the pastor of a very small fundamentalist church,
and I never did know where he lived. He was off the island and he was never involved. So it
was the one church, the pastor, the one resident clergyman on the island who became a key
person. There were two people who were identified by the tribal fishermen as people that they
had particular problems with, more than once. Let's say Landowner A and Landowner B. After
visiting with them, I had the issues from the Native American standpoint and the issues as
identified by the landowners. The brandishing of weapons was one of the issues by both sides, I
believe. Anyway, I came to meetings with them. I also talked to the State Department of
Fisheries Enforcement personnel who had jurisdiction of that area and with the Marine Patrol of
the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, to get information that they might have about this situation,
confirming that they had been called and that they had not been involved beyond just responding
and then leaving. I was talking to the sheriff, too.
What kinds of questions were you asking the third parties, the sheriffs
and the fishery people?
Their knowledge, their interpretation of what was going on. Their records that they had, in
fact, been called and what they were told. They had these kinds of complaints, and what their
view of what their authority was in these cases.
Did you have any particular order of people who you talked to?
Well, I went to the people who called, first. My rule of thumb has always been to respond to
those who call, and then take it from there. And that's usually a member of some minority group
of some sort, who would call us most often.
Are those meetings private and confidential at that point, once you
decide to come on sight?
Not necessarily. At that point, you're just talking, discussing the situation with them. You're
not in the group. I would offer confidence. I remember in this particular case, I would say, "If
there's anything you wanna tell me in confidence, I'll keep it in confidence. I won't repeat it to
anybody." When that seems to be needed for the purpose of getting communication or frankness
and openness, I would certainly do that and respect it.
Is it commonly needed?
During this initial assessment period, are you
basically feeling out the parties to find out what their issues are, what their positions are, or is
there something else happening during this assessment? Are these groups asking you to do
things, or asking you "What can you do," or "what's the feedback of the other groups?"
Well, some things are happening directly and some things indirectly. One, my physical
presence, in this kind of situation, is a source of some kind of reassurance that somebody's going
to be able to do something about this. This is after explaining, more or less, what our role was.
You explain that to the group before?
Oh yes, always. "My name is Bob Hughes, I'm from the Community Relations Service, US
Department of Justice," and go on to explain what the agency is as concisely as I can, because
they've never heard of it, invariably. And then I'd ask them, "Are there any questions you have
about me and our agency?" And then once we get that out of the way, we go on to, "I'd like to
talk about these issues that have been raised with me. Can you tell me what's been going on?"
But what I'm after is the identification of issues, the parties to those issues, and what it would
take to resolve those issues. Those are the three basic questions that I'm after, but I don't ask
them in just that way. Secondly, I'm also getting information about the attitudes toward the other
parties. Such as the extent of communication between the parties, if any, and I'm getting a feel
for the possibilities for some sort of joint meeting, as one of the possible options.
Some of the other things that are happening are that they're getting to
know me and the agency, and I'm establishing a relationship with them, and I hope this is the
basis of some degree of trust. The way that I pose my questions and the way that I'm not
accusing them of being judgmental, trying to get as objective of an answer as possible. I think
that's important at this stage. That's one of the things that's taking place. Also, in order to get
answers from them, I may be, to a certain extent, interpreting to a limited degree the positions
from the other side. That's a dangerous sort of thing to do, but in order to get their views of
something, I may need to say, "I have heard, or understand, or was told, that so and so had
happened, and they're very concerned about it. Are you aware of this?" That sort of thing. So
it's the beginning of communication through me as a third party, but I keep that at a minimum at
It sounds like trust is very important in that initial assessment. How were you able to gain
trust of the parties?
Okay, good question. Each time you go back to them, you're saying the same things, you're
consistent. Consistency is important. And that can be a laborious process, but I usually start in
going back over what I may have gone over with them before. "And as you may recall, the
Community Relations Service is this and not that." After a certain amount of repetition, they
begin to hear the same things consistently. Then when we finally get together, I say the same
things again, and both sides are hearing it together. He knows that they know that he knows that
they know. That sort of thing is building a basis for communication.
Now at the same time that you're building trust between you and the various parties, what are
you doing to build the trust between the various parties themselves?
I'm not necessarily doing that at this point. I'm trying to build a relationship with me, get me
accepted, to empower me to be in a position to get them together. But in the back of my mind is
that joint meeting out there, in which they're face to face and interpreting issues themselves, not
through me. Hopefully they're consistent with what I may have alluded to, but of course they go
much further than I would have.
In this particular case, what was the
approximate turn-around time between when you decided to take the case, you got on sight, and
you decided you can go to the table?
So you're talking about me formulating recommendations of mediation to the parties?
Right. After you've talked with the parities involved, and you feel like this is something that
could be mediated, and you make that recommendation.
No, it's a little more specific than that. I would, after having talked with these various
let them know that I'm talking to these other parties. I may not name them all, but I'm asking,
"Are there others that I need to talk to?" I've been involved in a lot of questioning with them,
and at a certain point, I will say, "I now have some recommendations I'd like to make to you.
When can we meet to discuss these?" And at that point, I would have developed answers to
those three basic questions and what needs to be done about it. Is this a case where mediation
might be effective? And then, once I develop my formulation for the case, that's when I meet
with them separately, making no effort to get anybody together. If there's fighting going on, you
try your best to stop the violence in order to develop dialogue, but we're not talking about that in
Were there any parties for which you had to work extra hard to gain
trust? Parties that didn't want you to be there, and you had to really show them something above
I don't recall specifically, but the property owners would probably be the more tenuous
relationship. They would have been more suspicious than the others, but I don't know. Again, I
think that consistency is key and I try to let everybody know what I'm doing.
How long did your assessment take for this particular case?
Goodness. We're talking about, how many years ago? My first trip
down was to get the Native American side. Then tracking down, and arranging to come down
the following week to try to locate the property owners. Then meetings with law enforcement to
get their insights or observations. That could easily be two weeks. Now, as in all cases, this isn't
the only case you've got.
So you're working on other cases at the same time?
Yes. Especially on Indian treaty fishing rights cases, which for reasons we can discuss later,
those issues all arise at the same time. Anyway, I
made recommendations that we meet at a neutral site, away from the island itself, and away from
the reservation itself. I asked the sheriff if we could use the sheriff's conference room in the
city. I explored that possibility with him, but there would be no question about whether we
could access it or not, he was very cooperative. He was very anxious to get this issue settled
because he didn't know how to handle it himself. He didn't know what the law was, and if we
could work things out so that he's not being called with expectations it would be all for the
better. In fact, his legal counsel was even made available to me.
Were all the parties eager to go to the table?
Not eager, but willing. As I recall, one being adamant, they were interested in trying to
up with some answer to this so it would end.
Did you help the parties prioritize their issues in any way, or help
them with their presentation? There was quite a long list on both sides, so did you reformulate
them in any way?
I would list them and I might rephrase them in some way to make them clearer.
You didn't make
any assessment of
what the most important issues were, and which was next?
No. I would set the agenda for the negotiations themselves. That's not the first meeting
though. The first meeting in the sheriff's office conference room was where they would meet
each other face to face for the first time. There was about a dozen people there. The CRS
guidelines for mediation would've been explained in detail when I made the recommendation for
mediation. I urged them to discuss things, and I gave them a list of about a dozen to fifteen
points. These were really my version of CRS mediation guidelines or conditions. I would
answer any questions they might have on that. It would've been the time
prior to that first meeting when I would've pointed out to the home owners, "There needs to be
some kind of entity that the tribe can deal with, who do you want to be? Can we identify you as
a particular group?" As I recall, the minister was chosen. They chose their own people,
although I had probably been responsible for identifying those who were interested and
urging. I frankly do not recall offhand if I met with them separately, prior to the first
meeting. I would have met with two or three of them to explain the guidelines.
But at any rate, by the time they got to the sheriff's office, they would've known what the
guidelines were, and then in that first session, I would've explained what can be expected. One,
we'd go over the procedures and the guidelines. I would repeat what I had said before, and
hopefully I'm still consistent. I would answer questions they have. Now they know that the
others know that they don't talk to the press. I ask them "Do you agree to these terms?" The
others hear them say "yes" and vice versa. That's sort of the basic, the bedrock for the mediation
has been laid at that point. No discussion of issues, background, or anything like that.
Are the parties able to give input as to how you're going to run the mediation session, or are
you telling them?
Not much room for that. If I am to be the mediator here, I am bound by my agency to
conduct mediation along these lines. In that case I don't think I would get a challenge to that. Of
course there are introductions. People were meeting each other for the first time in many cases.
Usually, they're sitting on opposite sides of the tables. In those days, Henry Kissinger was
running around working out the shape of the table and all that. I never bothered about any of
What did you do to open up the line of communication?
They ask questions, and they get the answers. The second session was where we would
the process of problem identification. And at this point, no discussion shall be conducted about
answers or solutions to any of these. That's something else that will happen later. What we want
now is a free and frank exchange of ideas from both sides. Then I would invite, "Would you like
to start off and list your issues?" They've given them to me individually. They would list the
issues, one by one. A certain amount of clarification would begin to be taking place,
understanding of not only what, but why they're upset. The tribal leadership had never heard of
these tribal fishermen defecating in somebody's front yard in front of children, this was
outrageous, and that sort of thing. A certain amount of clarification and explanation began to
Were all of those things considered factual information, or were any of those issues ever
Oh yes. But I would've stated in the beginning that these are perceptions by the people on
this side of the table and it's important for you to not only know what happened, but to hear these
perceptions and try to understand them.
Heidi asked you a little while ago about
helping the groups prioritize. During this initial meeting, or the second meeting where parties
are expressing themselves, do you allow them to express themselves in the language and the tone
that they choose, or do you try to coach them to express themselves in a certain way?
You've asked several questions. One, the main thing we need to get
a free and frank exchange of ideas. This can be brutal at times. I've had a mayor walk out of a
meeting and I had to chase him and say, "This is what we've got to have, get all the problems out
here on the table now. Whatever way it takes. We should be understanding, and it may hurt, but
it's much more important that we be frank and talk about it, rather than lay only part of the issues
out and still have other issues, concerns, or problems. This is our chance to deal with
them." There would be some opportunity for going into the background of these
issues, too. For example, the disenfranchisement of Indians and violation of treaties, there was
at least some allusion to that. It's important to Native Americans that this be in the background
of the record, even though it may not be dealt with in detail. In any case, if there's time that day
for the other side to give it's listing of issues and concerns, and what and why, then we would go
into that. If at the first session problem identification was not completed by one of the parties,
then we would pick it up at the next session. All of one side identified it's problems in their
entirety, and then the other one would have it's opportunity to give it's side. And to a certain
extent, of course, answers to questions or perceptions would be given.
So I gather that if one side, like the Native Americans, accuses the
other side of doing something, you hold off before the landowner makes a rebuttal statement.
The other party is not expected to give any answer to what's being said by the other party.
Did you ever have a problem where people wanted to rebut? Did you have to control that?
I'm sure I did. I can't remember specifically.
How would you handle that?
Essentially, after making some kind of a statement, saying, "Okay, you will have an
opportunity to answer this a little bit later. Just hold off. The important thing is to get this out,
and then we want you to give your side of this."
Did you ever find yourself assisting one party to try to understand the
other party's position?
I think it's the role of the mediator to restate for purposes of clarification. Sometimes, it's
needed to clarify, and even, "Is this what you're saying?"
Did that seem to help, or were there times when the party who was speaking said, "No, that's
not what we mean?"
Oh, I'm sure that happened. Heck, I'm a non-Indian and have no background. I didn't even
know what they were talking about when I first got the complaint in this. You know what the
title to the case is that I wrote on the file? Beach standing Indian's complaint. Later on, that
didn't mean a thing. What's a beach standing Indian? But they were talking about Indians who
were standing on the waterfront fishing. So I had to learn what a meander line was, and that sort
of thing. They had to explain it to me before I could really go anywhere with it.
Did you do anything to try to diminish tensions between parties?
As I had mentioned earlier, at times it's all you can do to keep them in the same room. I
them to be frank, I want to be in communication, and then frank communication, I'm not nearly
as worried at that stage about the feelings of each other. I think it's more important to be
Once you get past the sharing stage, if that's what you want to call it, what's the next phase of
I wouldn't call it sharing, but explanation of our concerns, our issues, our complaints. That
holds a little different connotation than my sharing these concerns with you.
Okay. So what's the next phase of the process?
After the complaints have all been laid on the table, and there has been clarification about
complaint and the background when we all agree that we've disclosed everything that's
significant, then okay, we close this off. We begin the process of developing solutions. What
are the answers? What are the approaches that need to be made to these questions? Here, the
mediator plays the role of selecting what should be dealt with first. The question always arises,
should we deal with the hard ones first, or the easy ones? If we can get agreement on the easy
ones, maybe we can develop an approach to the hard ones. But not the reverse. Some people
say if you answer the hard ones, everything else will fall into place. I think that's completely
Did you perceive all the parties to be on the
same level playing field, or did you find that there's one party that had significantly more power?
There were different kinds of power. white public opinion would have been a factor in the
background of the landowners, and I'm sure that the Native Americans, the tribal leaders, were
very much aware of that. One of the things they were concerned about was what Congress
would ultimately do.
The tribal leaders?
Yes. Not in this particular case, but I think in Indian country, in general. Treaties can be
changed by Congressional action. The courts can give definition to treaties and that sort of
thing, I think the thing in the background that's rarely articulated is this fear of what Congress
will do about, in this case, these kinds of treaty rights and private property rights. Therefore,
white public opinion, once this is all out in the open arena, could generate a lot of feelings.
So does that threat influence the Native Americans to not push as hard?
It would probably have some influence along those lines. It wouldn't be specific, but it's a
restraining influence. I've never heard it put just this way, but that's my
How did you get the parties to come up with
solutions? Did you have them brainstorm ideas?
I would arrange the order that we bring things up. What can be done about this issue, and
then this one, that sort of thing. We'd go down some of the list. When difficult issues are
encountered, there would be an impasse. I had a strong belief in the assignment of joint
committees, say there's two people that had strong feelings on an issue. I would go through the
Chair, to recommend, "What would you think of appointing two people from your side, and two
people from the other side to meet tonight together? Maybe they could come up with a joint
approach to this issue for recommendation in the morning?" That would be one way of trying to
get into greater depth of some of the issues.
Would you work with that small group?
I might, or I may not. I'd meet with them in the morning before the general session began, I
would arrange to meet with them, and see "What did you come up with?" That way I would
know what to expect. I'd want to know if any joint proposal had evolved
So did you rely on the parties to generate the solutions?
If I had any thoughts about what would work, I don't feel that I can't make any
recommendations. I think it's the responsibility of the mediator. From what's been placed on the
table here, if I understand what you're saying, would this meet your concerns?
During this specific example, did you find any of the parties came to the table just to give lip
service? They really weren't being forthright?
Not in this particular case. It's happened in other cases.
I just wanted to go
back to the power disparity between the groups. You say that it occurs on different levels. I
wanted to know, what did you do to equal the power, keeping in mind the Indian tribe has
That's a very good question. Back in my assessment, I would have made a judgment
whether or not mediation was appropriate here. Mediation would only be appropriate between
approximate equals. In other words, I never would have recommended to either of the parties
that they go into mediation if there wasn't some broad semblance of equality. You don't get very
far if you have unequals, or obvious gross inequality. It's unfair to involve the weaker party, no
matter who they are.
So they're relatively the same power. Did you have to do anything extra, providing technical
assistance for one group that you didn't provide to another group?
I don't recall. I might have explained to some of the landowners something about the Bolt
decision, that sort of thing. But everybody knows I'm not an attorney.
Did your impartiality become an issue in this
case at all?
Not an open issue. It may have been suspected, but it was never communicated to me as I
Did you have any impasses during this case?
I don't recall, we were able to move along down the list of issues pretty well, and the use of
the joint committee was really our breakthrough.
How long and how many people were at these sessions at the same time?
I think that first session many have been about a dozen. At subsequent sessions, I'd say we
always had eight or ten.
And each side had one primary spokesperson?
Well, a leader, but not necessarily always on the same subject. They might indicate today,
"John will explain why boating equipment has to be left on the island, because he is one of the
fishermen involved in some particular aspect of it. He's well versed." The spokesperson shifted
from issues to issues.
Was there ever any problem, conflict, or
disagreement within one side? Landowners not being able to agree on what they are going to
present, or the Native Americans for that matter. Were there internal conflicts as well as
I can't remember anything specifically, but whenever a party lacks unity around a key issue,
as we all know, real negotiation stops at that point until it's sorted out because they're not going
to deal with those issues openly in front of the other parties, so I always call a recess. Then I
speak to those who are experiencing this kind of problem. They would go into a caucus in
private and see if they could work it out, because I don't think we could move forward if there's
an issue. But as I said, I don't recall either of the parties having a problem in this particular
You told me a little earlier about how you
build trust between yourself and various parties. What specifically are you able to do to gain
trust between the parties, if anything?
There's certainly the assignment of particular tasks to joint committees. That builds trust and
working relationships between those involved in that. When they come back in with an agreed
upon, joint position, then that's communicated to the other. I don't know that I do anything
Those tasks are interesting though, so you come up with those on your own?
Yes. It may be very obvious. I look for opportunities to assign a joint committee to work on
this, especially overnight.
Did you bring any outside resources in to help
resolve this conflict, like an expert on treaties, or the sheriff? Was there any outsider that you
brought in to help with this?
Yes. The North West Indian Fishers Commission, which is an intertribal organization that
coordinates tribal positions, operations, fisheries, hatcheries and so on. I brought a
representative from that group in with the consent of all the parties. I thought this was a person
whose organization would have some insights into some of this.
So were they used as experts to suggest solutions?
I don't remember specifically. There would probably have been a valuable use of such a
resource. I also had the Washington State Department of Fisheries Enforcement there. It was a
special patrol unit within the State Department of Fisheries that had a specific area of interest in
these issues. They were involved as well. Usually, I try to have everybody start off together
rather than calling people in. I know that I had the North West Indian Fishers Commission, State
Department of Fisheries, the sheriff's office, I think all of those may have been involved from
the beginning. Although they're not parties to the issues, they would have a role, they would
have information that might be helpful. For their own policies, they needed to know what was
going on. Hopefully they would be supportive of the implementation that was needed. Thirdly,
they would be a part of the solutions involved in the implementation, not just support it. They
were involved in some of these things. We never did go into who's allowed to be in the room as
part of ground rules.
Let's talk about that.
was four to six representatives would be at the table for each side, no less than four, maybe six or
eight would be an ideal number. For the members of your team, you need a chair person, a
spokesperson, and somebody to take notes for you. Don't depend on notes from me or the other
party, you need to keep your own notes. Also, there needs to be somebody that I can contact
readily to notify when meetings will be a link to your team. That's the negotiating team.
Observers are there, those who have an interest in what's going on and who need to know
because they could have a role in making or breaking the agreement after it's been developed,
after the negotiations are over. There may be a need for other persons, or representatives from
other entities to have an understanding of what's going on here, because of the potential helpful
role they might play later if they have an understanding. Resource people or technical assistance
people are examples. In this case, I'm not sure whether there were observers or technical
assistance persons, but they probably played both roles, these three outside agencies.
Did you let them choose who they thought would be best for those roles, or did you make
I probably would make recommendations. They would tell me, "it would be good if the
North West Indian Fishers Commission had somebody here," but I'd try to get them in from the
beginning so that nobody's joining in afterwards, which is always destructive to the process.
Did any of the parties ever want to include someone that you felt would create more tension
or wouldn't help resolve the conflict?
Not in this particular case, no. Others, yes.
Did you make an effort to make sure the negotiating team on each side was the same size?
No. Who will participate is sorted out at the beginning. If you're willing to come to the
it's whoever they determine they want to have, and vice versa.
Do you insist that the same people stay at the table the whole time to prevent changing of the
If at all possible. One of the points in the recommendations is giving priority and
to this, whenever there's a meeting, you will be there. Of course that never is 100%, but I ask
them to prioritize participation in this, because it is important.
In this particular case did you ever have a
problem maintaining your objectivity or impartiality?
I'm sure I did.
Do you remember specifically on what issues?
Not offhand, I just sit there and bite my tongue. As I point out to them, in the role of the
mediator, I may have some feelings, I may have some strong feelings about the right and wrong
of what one side is doing. If I state what that is and act in such a way in chairing these sessions,
if I seem to be favoring one side or the other, then the other side has one more person on their
side and there's no mediator. Therefore, regardless of my feelings, I am of use only if I try to be
as objective as possible, and my personal feelings don't have anything to do with
Did any of the parties ask you to do
that you were not able to do?
I don't recall offhand. If they wanted me to meet with them, I made sure the other side knew
was meeting with them. I offered to meet with them if they wanted to, that sort of thing. I don't
recall anything that I couldn't do, I tried to accommodate their needs as much as possible. It's a
part of building trust over a number of meetings, when they would realize that I was
communicating what I was doing with the other side. That's part of the trust building
How did you deal with confidentiality, in the
context of negotiations?
As part of the ground rules, this would be what we would talk about. "If anybody feels that
they cannot make a statement unless there's an assurance of confidentiality, I think we ought to
respect that, to accept it as confidential and not to be repeated outside this room by anybody
here." That's going to sound real hollow to people who don't trust them anyway, "I discourage
the use of confidentiality, because there is a need for each of the parties during the negotiations
to keep their constituencies generally informed about what's happening inside. Because they're
not represented there, they need to know. Ultimately, they will presumably be involved and
approve or disapprove of what you do, what we do." So I say, "Don't tie your hands by using
confidentiality more than what is absolutely necessary. Sometimes there maybe a need for it, in
which case, I think we should be willing to give our word and we will regard it as confidential,
not to be repeated."
How did you deal with the media?
It's a hot potato. In this case, the media had no awareness about what we were doing, and I
certainly didn't go to them. I point out to them that the Community Relations Service guidelines
spell out how to deal with media. This is helpful to me. It's not my position, it's the agencies
position. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Nobody initiates any contact with any
representative of the TV, radio, or print media. Secondly, if you are approached by a
representative of the media, you have to commit yourself and refer them to the mediator. When
a media person contacts me, I may give them an explanation of the process that we're going
through, I may make some general statements about the progress that's taking place, but I won't
be discussing specific details about what we're doing inside. There will be a time for that later.
Going to the other item in the guidelines, which are at the conclusion of the mediation assuming
that we have an agreement, then I will arrange for a press conference to be held and we will have
each of the parties represented with the spokespersons. Then, I will explain to the media what
we've done, the process that we've gone through, and that this is the result of that mediation. I'd
hand them copies of the agreement, which would have needed to have been approved by that
point. That's not always possible. For example, a board of education has to meet in public, so
everybody knows what they're doing, so you kind of do the mediation at the same time. But you
would distribute copies of the written signed agreement. The policy on media relations no
longer applies and the representative of each of the parties is here, and the media is free to ask
them any questions. It's part of the ceremony, if you can call it that. We might have the signing
of the documents by the representatives. Hopefully, there will be publicity around the solutions
Was there media presence at this signing?
No. I don't think the media would've cared. They had not heard of this, and it was not my
role to inform them of this. At least at this point, we made our breakthroughs and made an eight
point agreement. At the conclusion, after it was signed, it had to be taken to the three tribal
counsels, and signed off by each of them. We negotiated through the day as I recall, and then
had to take it to the tribal counsels that night, and once we got the tribal chairperson's name on
all the documents, then it was my job to take copies of the agreement to the media. So, I spent
the rest of the night, literally, taking copies to television stations, to radio stations and to the print
media in Seattle. The results of all that effort was one little blurb about an inch long in the
Tacoma paper. Good news is no news.
Do you remember
points of the agreement?
One. We recognized the Indian treaty and their usual custom fishing areas, and their right to
access waters by passing through other waters for fishing. Some such verbiage. They have a
right to pass through and use private property in order to exercise that right. A major, major
concession was the recognition of those rights. But that was worked out in a joint committee.
The tribal attorney in this case, who's a non-Indian, young man, was probably crucial in the
working and persuading. He probably said something like "If you will give this recognition, I
think in exchange, we can get to these other concerns that you have addressed."
What was given in exchange?
All of this. There was a listing of procedures. All nets shall be lit at all times, they shall be
placed so as to provide clear navigation channels in and out of the bay. There will be no loud
playing of radios or excessive noise while fisherman are involved in fishing. There were a
number of things like that, which addressed these specific concerns that had been raised.
The Tribal Fisheries Patrol was a key part. They had one large boat with a sergeant in charge of
it, who was a highly respected man, a Chippewa. He was from another part of the country, and
he was highly respected, had a lot of law enforcement experience, and outside of tribal
enforcement. During fishing, operations are taking place, during the fishing season, the Fishers
Enforcement Patrol will regularly visit these areas and will ensure that all fishermen have copies
of this agreement and that they will have authority to lift nets that are improperly placed and so
on. So there was an enforcement procedure. And I believe that was it. These agreements are
permanent. They'll last forever. It doesn't terminate at a certain point. The last item in the
agreement would be that the mediator will arrange for a meeting three months from now for the
purpose of reviewing implementation of the agreements. Secondly, for the purpose of
addressing new issues related to this general area that may have arisen, that are not addressed
specifically in the terms of the agreement. Thirdly, and this is by far the most important, I could
renew working relationships. Now, I don't recall if I said all of that on the first case, because
that was a growing awareness. But from that point on, every mediation agreement, I would try
to persuade them to agree to that. This may have been where I first used that. What came out of
this was, the time of the next meeting was after the fishing season had been completed. In the
meantime, there was a procedure for a complaint channel, a number at the Fisheries Patrol
Office, and this is the name of the person who's in charge of it. Call, and he will respond to calls
from property owners. That was a commitment that he had made. He must have been invited
into the meeting to be introduced and so on, a very attractive person and a lot of this was
successful because of him. He could be depended on to come, and he did.
The provision for the follow-up meeting was at the conclusion of the fishing season, which
would be over in October or something like that. There's various runs of salmon, I had to learn
all this. "When the last run has run then the mediator will reconvene the parties and we'll review
the implementation of the agreement." And at that point, we arranged for, prior to the beginning
of the next season, which would be about August or September, we'll meet again and be sure
that we have the right phone numbers and any changes that have taken up. All these things that
the Indians have little knowledge of, but that was provided for. That went on for several years,
that kind of meeting.
With you involved?
I was for the first year or so, but we would meet at the sheriff's Marine Patrol Office, the
precinct where they operated out of. And I'd work out of the role of mediator and turn it over to
the sergeant in charge of the Marine Patrol. He'd have the responsibility for contacting the
parties to be convened, and maybe I would attend, maybe I wouldn't. But I was trying to get out
of their dependence on me. There were various problems that came up later, but that was the
process and dynamics that went into that case. That was my first fishing rights case. But it
wasn't the last.
Based on that, one of the
three tribes called me and said, "We've got problems over here in this other location near
Olympia." And they were the only ones with treaty rights there. In response to their request, I
went over there. In this case, there was a community meeting of property owners, a middle class
grouping of people and a lot of university professors. All in this upscale waterfront house, with
hors devours served and everything else. I had called and asked if I could attend this meeting. I
walked into a hornet's nest. I knew it was. But I had to talk my way through it and get them into
committing themselves to mediation all in that one night, because I had them all together. That
was the only chance I had.
What kinds of things were you saying to try to persuade them?
Well, "what's the alternatives?" Again, it was chasing Indians off of their waterfront, out of
their front yards. "This happened over at the other island. It was violent over there, and the
waterfront was beginning to be armed, and we could see where it was going. We got together in
mediation and worked these things out. Here's a copy of the agreement." I used that Squackson
Island agreement all over Puget Sound.
So you were able to take it from one place to another?
Oh yeah. This is the model, and they didn't have any other models for this kind of an issue.
We found that there were confrontations occurring, in all sorts of places, like the Olympia case.
It never made the media, but a lot of people were upset and irate. We were able to, in that case,
use the local college. It was a neutral site, not one of their homes, and not over at the tribal
center, but over in this conference room at the local university. We worked out the same, basic
That was my question. Were these similar?
Yes, and then the Nesquallas had that
over in Olympia, where there was another place on the Nesqualli River that flows on the
reservation, but through privately owned property of the Mormon church. They had a number of
acres right on the river that were for sportsman's events. Their people came to fish there, legally
and so on, from maybe Seattle. There was also a supply center. They stockpiled supplies in a
building on this property. They keep food for a year in advance. Anyway, this is where clothing
was stockpiled, and poor Mormons, I gather, could come and get needed supplies. But there was
a gate, which took a magnetic card for it to slide back and let you in, otherwise it was all barred
off. This was a prime fishing area on the Nesqualli River. "Every time we come there, that
gate's locked. And we can't get in." You can imagine. I don't remember specifics besides that.
But we worked out a very simplistic approach as compared with these others. But again, we
secured the recognition of the right of access through that gate, through the private property,
over to the waterfront during fishing season. And of course, one magnetic card was given to the
Fisheries Chairperson, and of course that card got lost and we can't get through. That's not an
objective statement to make, but there were problems with keeping up with that card, and then
there were some problems involving the other tribe, that we were able to help.
They had treaty rights issues on another island. The teamsters union had a recreation property, a
very tough outfit. We met in the National Marine Fisheries office in the Olympia area, a neutral
location, non-tribal and not a teamsters union office. And again, using the basic model that we
had developed on Squackson Island for this as well, that is access to this property owner and this
caretaker down there who was a pretty tough person. He was retired from truck driving, I guess,
to take care of this recreation property. He had been accused of not allowing tribal members to
fish along their waterfront.
Then there was another tribe with the same issues. One was in the town of Stillicum. They had
a private park which is on the tribal land. It was on an inlet, and they had wanted it used as a
custom fishing area, and this park was on a little point that had often been used for fishing, and
they objected to access through their land. There was no parking here, and they built campfires
where they were camping out and so on. That kind of usage that was illegal for citizens, but the
Indians did use it in this way. We were able to work out that, again, pulling in State
Department of Fisheries. See, they took it as a mission. They had begun to catch the
significance of what they were doing. We were pioneering some area here that nobody's done
But anyway, I had an afternoon mediation and still looked in on the evening negotiations up in
Olympia and I had other casework besides just this. And I remember once I was trying to
address some tribal issues over in Washington and in Northern Idaho and getting from this area
to there, I was really stretched thin.
So one approach that I used, when it came to the point of having to
reconvene the parties to review their issues at the conclusion of this fishing season. It was
maybe two years later the Nesqualla tribe hosted a big salmon bake for all of the parties involved
and we must have been 50 people in the same room, and each group would come forward and
make the presentation of what their problems were, what the arrangements were for the coming
season, and how things were working out for them. One after another, we heard from these
various communities. It must have been about five different mediation groups or joint
committees from the parties, and some of them involved in more than one case, of course. But
we came up, and so we reviewed them all at the same time, and low and behold, I did some
promotion of this with the media, and nobody showed up except for one Seattle TV Station, and
they documented the whole thing. I've got a tape of this news coverage, not of the whole event.
That was the only time I was able to get them all together in that fashion, but it was just a matter
of, I can't handle all this. I've had too many balls in the air and had to get them all together. The
spirit that came out of that, and the hospitality of the Nesquallas hosting this wonderful Salmon
Bake, was just icing on the cake. It really had a very positive effect.
We talked yesterday about the case where the Native American group called you, and that's
how the case got started. Did you ever go into a situation where you identified the problem
without having somebody call you first? So you were faced with a decision of how do I get in?
How do you deal with that?
It occurred to me last night, that there's one aspect immediately following the mediation
at this island case that I thought was significant. It was the way the announcement was made to
the community. I thought it was unique. The parties, after the mediation, and the pastor of the
United Church of Christ suggested that we have an open house at his church and invited
everybody from the community. This would be the white community and the non-Indian
community, that's where the concerns were. They were all supportive that the community go
along with this. Anyway, we had an open church a few days after the agreement was signed and
had a very good turnout in terms of attendance.
The procedure that we went through was that the key persons on both sides had a meeting
together, had an explanation of what the grievance was, and people could ask questions and so
on. After that, it became very informal and they had cake and coffee and that sort of thing and
broke up into small groups and there were Indian tribal members chatting with residents and vice
versa for the first time really, especially those who were most concerned about what had been
I happened to notice that there was one person, shall we say Subject A? If you remember, he
was one of the person's who had more complaints about this person than anyone else that I came
across. I couldn't help but notice that he was off in a corner with three men standing around him,
and he was talking with them and showing them something. I couldn't see what it was and I had
to look over his shoulder. This was a copy of the Bolt decision that he had somehow gotten a
hold of. And it was all underlined with these parts and he was saying, you see, they have a right
to come under our property. Now that is just as significant a part of mediation I think as the
negotiations at a table. What the people at the table do at the wake of it. They've got the job of
convincing their constituencies. We must never lose sight of that, empowering those people and
each side needs to be aware of those needs, it works both ways. Later on, this same individual
was sitting on his porch and noticed across a neck of the lake a tribal fisherman over there,
somebody on the dock who looked like they were having some kind of problems, he couldn't tell
what it was. This guy wasn't young and he wasn't in good health, but he gets in his rowboat,
rows as fast as he can clear across the bay, and intervenes and sorts it out and works out
whatever the problem was. That again is involvement in this way.
At the subsequent meetings, before the next season started, those became very important people
to tell their experiences and reinforce this kind of positive action. As they looked forward to
relating this, they became a reference group of those involved in the review of their decisions.
The persons involved in those joint meetings later moved on, tribal leadership changed and so
on. Tribal Fisherman Patrol chief became police chief in another reservation. These follow up
meetings helped to perpetuate the original understandings and most importantly working
relationships, regardless of what's on paper. That's what producing the paper and producing the
agreements created, working relationships. Those small joint committees focused on a purpose.
That's what creates the working relationships. In other words, mediation sessions are just the
beginning. There were people in CRS, when I would relate stories like this, who would say, "Oh
no, that's not mediation. When you finish up your mediation sessions, signed, you're out of there
and that's it." That's a philosophy practice. To me, I think it's the human relations, in addition
to the human rights involved, they're equally important.
Would that be how you measured your success while you were at
CRS, that human relationship being developed between parties?
Well, I think that was an important aspect that I discovered.
What other gauges do you use to measure whether or not you were
I'd say the length of time that the agreement holds up. That's one thing, and secondly,
whether the group that I worked with carries on and addresses other similar questions and
expands the scope that I think is important, beyond the negotiating table.
Do you monitor that continuing effort?
As needed. But I'm always looking for ways to encourage them to continue on, while at the
same time, making them less dependent on me. There's another case that's a good
example of this that is related to law enforcement. You've probably hit your quota on law
enforcement cases. But there's good examples of what we're talking about.
Give us an overview.
There was a young black man, 22 years of age, shot and killed by a police marksman after he
was a barricaded suspect in an apartment complex. This was in Anchorage. The reaction of the
African-American community was very predictable. Outrage, and so on. As often happens,
there are other incidents that have occurred that are brought to mind, and the Alaskan
community had similar issues. "Hey, this happened to us too." Local human rights
commissions held a community meeting, and as I understand it, pretty well lost control. The
outrage was so strong that they were not able to provide any effective leadership and CRS came
in a little bit later. This was going to be ongoing, and we helped to organize community
representatives of a number of groups that had become involved into a community coalition: The
Native Alaskan Organization, the statewide organization, the local Native Alaskan Organization,
the NAACP, and the Black Leadership Conference. After the assessment recommended
mediation with the police department, the police chief agreed to enter into mediation, we met in
a federal building in a little auditorium where eventually we were able to hammer out a fourteen
point agreement. This took maybe eight sessions. We had two sessions that first week and came
back the next week. It made some real breakthroughs. That's the first time, I'm aware of, that a
firearms policy of a police department was revised by mediation agreement. Use of deadly force
was sharply curtailed to a defense-only policy, which was certainly not the standard in that time.
Among other things, we found a graduate student of criminology, who was unemployed, living
out in the community. We brought her in, and created a position for her, because we needed that
influence. It was virtually an all white department, too. The things that were dealt with in the
agreement: firearms policy was number one, of course: training black and Native American
leadership; and cultural awareness training, both in service and in the local police academy. It
was affirmative action. Not only recruiting, the community agreed to assist in promoting careers
in the department, and agents from the community. There were promotions for those who
worked within. They established a community relations unit more or less around the
criminologist, although she wasn't a sworn officer. Those were the regular kinds of elements of
In the event of any racially based crisis, the members in the negotiating teams would establish
communication. In other words, either could initiate contact and there were co-chair persons I
believe, and either of them could initiate a joint meeting to ensure communication and to secure
factual information over police reports so that they could effectively address the issues involved.
So that grievance channel was established. Lastly was the review of the agreement. In three
months the mediator will return. This time, I learned my lesson and was trying to get it
incorporated in all of the agreements. Everybody agreed to that. Every three months, for about
three quarters, I would go back and convene such a meeting. But the participants said, "Can you
come back next month?" I had to say, "My budget won't allow me to travel every month up
here, why don't you meet on your own? You've got two co-chairs." That was fine. They began
to meet every month, I was overjoyed at this, it was succeeding. They said, "What about the
Koreans, the Korean Human Rights Committee? They've had a lot of problems- accusations of
drug dealing and so on." LULAC is here, so they expanded it to involve these other
organizations that weren't involved on the initial negotiating team.
Then a black sergeant had soldiers at the local military base bring in some of them dressed as
Klansmen, and burn a cross on the door in the barracks of a black sergeant, trying to scare him,
'playing a prank.' This was publicized and the community, the black community in particular,
was outraged. Nobody had a channel, a line, out to Ft. Richardson, and they weren't involved
and the community was all uptight. So I went out and talked with the Marshall, and it happened
to be that he was from Anniston, Alabama, right next to where I was raised in Gaston. Anyway,
I got him to become involved as a member of this committee, and also, with the permission of
the others, invited the US Attorney. But he sent an assistant. The FBI agent in charge was very
interested and she went out. I spoke to her and she became involved and she had some very
good ideas and suggestions, a very effective member of this group. So this Anchorage Police
Minority Community Relations Task Force, and also the local Human Rights Commission, under
a new director, became involved. It's still going on, ten years later. It took on a life of its own
and it is the primary channel for police grievances as it relates to any of the minority
communities, and has taken on a wide range of projects over these years. But that came out of a
mediation agreement. And at first, I would start out and remind them, "This is the agreement,
let's see how the implementation is going after about a year of this." They say, "Why do we
have to start way back there?" And the mediation agreement was laid aside.
What did they do about the cross burning?
Oh, I think they had a Court Marshall. They identified the perpetrators, and as I recall, they
were Court Marshaled, disciplined, and possibly one person was dishonorably discharged. I
vaguely remember this. It was quite a few years ago. But that received national publicity.
How did you get involved with it initially?
Primarily, we were following it through the media. But there were good relations with the
NAACP. There had been for years prior to this period. Oh, and we had good relations with all
of the people involved. There was another CRS person who did the initial response and the
initial assessment, and I came in as the mediator. But it was only after the local Human Rights
Commission had been unable to address the issues that we became involved.
So generally speaking, how did you typically get involved in the cases? Was it something
that you were assigned, or did you look through the media and seek out this?
Contacts or media, people, parties who were involved, we maintained relationships with
minority leadership and played police officials, school officials, your routine. Oh, and we would
also subscribe to, in this case, the Anchorage and Fairbanks papers.
So you routinely called school officials and police officials and say, "How are things going?"
Not so much call up, but next time we're up there on another case, for example, always take
advantage of being there to contact or to meet with some of these people. And sometimes we
hadn't been in there, and no cases were being brought to our attention.
Would you ever just show up unannounced?
Yes, but that's generally not a good way to go.
What would be the reasons why you would just show up, versus call?
A crisis situation, a serious situation where we just had to drop things and go. Then you
seen to be showing up, as you put it. But we were just getting there quickly as we could and
could not establish contact. That is always less desirable for us. I was mediating a Bowhead
whales issues up in Port Barra, in the Arctic, and a serious incident had occurred and I took off
up there and finally got in. I remember, right after I arrived, one of the Native Alaskan local
leaders was coming out of the one general store that is in Barra, and I was coming in and
bumped into him. I think he'd been enjoying the evening a little bit before he went into the store,
let's put it that way. But he became almost irate that I had come without having contacted him.
He was not the top leader.
He knew who you were?
Oh yeah. We had done work together. I had worked with him. And I hadn't told him that I
was coming this time. I didn't have a chance to. So that's a downside. You try to notify people
that you're coming and will be involved, "Can I see you?"
Were there any other reasons why you wouldn't inform a party other
than just time constraints?
Well, there are plenty of communities where we would not know who to contact, smaller
rural areas. We may not know anybody there, or have a contact. So you just show up. You try
to contact somebody who does know the community, or that had been through there, or the next
community over. "Can you put me in touch with somebody there?" But, again, you don't always
have the luxury of making that many phone calls. And at some point, you've got to go, and you
will end up going unannounced. And in rural areas, that's not unusual. Sometimes that works
against you, but other times, people are glad to see you.
So who are you looking for once you get there? Who are you looking for first?
The people that call me, usually, just to get that out of the way. I usually try to respond to
whoever calls and try to make contact with them first.
And the cases where you are not called and don't have a contact, who are you looking for
what's your procedure at that point?
Well, I call somebody that I have a relationship within the next community over, or
somebody who works that area.
Do you try to go to the minority community first, or the white community first?
Generally the minority community because, in part, they're the ones who usually would have
called, rather than say police chiefs, as an example. The Department of Justice is the last kind of
agency that they would like to see there. They become generally very defensive as soon as you
say Department of Justice. They don't hear Community Relations Service.
Have you ever had a
situation where the state police, or the authority does not want you involved?
Oh, there are degrees of cooperation. Some is very superficial kind of cooperation, such as
not having time to meet with you, they have to handle another issue, or they have to go out of
What do you do then?
What do I do then? I work down. If I can't meet with person A, then I go to person B. In
case of say, a police chief, if there's a Community Relations Unit, and I know the officer there, I
might go to that officer first, before going to the police chief. It's all according to what kind of
rapport you have within that department or within that community. It's hard to
Can you recall any conflicts where neither of the parties wanted you
to become involved?
Not off-hand. I've had conflicts in which both parties initiate requests for
assistance. That's the best of all worlds, of course. That's happened to me a couple of times. In
Fairbanks, there was a school issue up there, and I had good working relationships. The school
superintendent calls and, in this case, I believe it was the African American, and the NAACP
leader, I believe, both called at the same time. And in Port Angeles, Washington, that happened
Does that make your job easier?
Oh yeah, yeah. In other words, it's almost natural. You slide in and you have had
some kind of rapport there and they reach out for help and you're able to respond.
Did you always have a plan before you went on-site, or did you develop a plan or a goal
after you arrived on-site?
Usually you have a basic plan of assessments that you start with, the people who have the
problem, and confirm what they are concerned about. And that's the beginning of that
assessment, answering those basic questions that I had mentioned. This of course relates to both
conciliation and mediation. Again, you're seeking to identify the issues and who the party's are,
and what would it take to resolve the issues in their eyes. And getting that, you formulate your
own conclusions and your own strategy, and then ultimately your
Do the parties have an influence on that strategy?
Oh yeah. What you feel like would work might be effective.
So did you see your role changing, case by case? Would you
yourself to have the same role consistently?
It's the similarity of issues and parties. With the Puget Sound Tribal fishing cases, my role
became fairly consistent there, because on the tribal side, in a number of those cases, I was
working with the same people. The fishery's chairperson, the fishery's patrol of the tribe. There
was a different set of people on the community side, that is the residents side, in those issues. So
basically, a very similar approach was made, and the tribal officials knew what to expect from
me and had a successful experience in other cases, so I would probably play a very similar role.
If you had to characterize the role that you played in a case, would
you characterize it as a conciliator, mediator, or a combination of both?
Well, it'd be according to the case. Sometimes it was as a mediator, and sometimes as a
conciliator. Some cases simply weren't appropriate for mediation. From 1984 on, I was doing
less and less mediation and more and more conciliation, because of an area that I began to
specialize in that was crucial.
What kind of cases aren't appropriate for mediation?
Well, where you have one party that would be utterly unwilling to meet with any of them.
So then what do you do?
You're involved in conciliation. It's not meetings as such.
Describe a typical kind of case. You
said, "The kind of thing I was getting involved in." What was that thing?
Let me answer you with this. In 1981, it was virtually all mediation, fishing rights issues
other Indian relation issues. But one day in November of 1981, I received a phone call from the
NAACP president in Spokane, and she said, "There's a picture in today's newspaper of a big
cross being burned with a bunch of men in uniforms and hoods all around the cross. It says it's
the Old Hinge Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. It says, Aryan Nations. What's that?" I said, "Aryan
And I didn't know. So I go over and meet with her, and then I realize that I'm going to Coeur
to meet the undersheriff for the first time. He's looking for somebody like me, and I was looking
for somebody like him. We worked very closely together.
After a number of contacts, I realized that there needed to be an entity to countervail the
influence of the Aryan Nations. They weren't interested in sitting down with a Jewish person, or
a black person, or anything like that. But I began the process of identification, and I realized
that the Spokane area had a minority community that was concerned about these activities. And
the Jewish community was concerned about these activities. But there was no minority
community, to speak of, in Coeur d'Alene, or in Northern Idaho. And so whatever was worked
would need to be worked out on the joint basis for both geographies. So I pulled together
NAACP representatives from Spokane, and the one Jewish Rabbi serving that whole area, as
well as the representative from the school superintendent's office, the prosecuting attorney, the
US attorney, the police chief, and the sheriff of Spokane County. Also, we had the Methodist
district superintendent and businessmen and the secretary of the bar association. And on the
other side, that undersheriff in Northern Idaho, and the representatives from the police
departments over there. There was one Jewish resident, but I couldn't find a black person at that
point who lived in Coeur d'Alene. I found out later that there were several, but I couldn't find
Oh, and the state's Human Rights Commission had an office there, so that director joined us and
a United Church of Christ minister over in Coeur d'Alene. And we pulled them together, after a
of discussion, I was the common link between all of them. They didn't know each other, even in
Spokane. I was the convener. It was important that we stay together long enough to formulate a
program and for me to get out of that role as quickly as possible. Because if anything's going to
evolve here, the last thing that should be done is that this group was formed by the US
Department of Justice on one hand, and secondly, somebody from Seattle. Those are the bad
people. I mean, Seattle is in competition with Spokane. Seattleites don't understand people east
of the mountains. But, in essence, what we did was form an ad-hoc organization, sponsor the
first conference on hate groups and hate activity in the Northwest.
TAPE CHANGE; QUESTION UNKNOWN
Not directly. I had contact with Reverend Butler, the head of it. But he really wasn't
interested in dealing with me in anyway over that. And that was it. And I don't think that there
would be anybody in these organizations that would have any interest in meeting with him
either. There was a two day seminar, it was statewide, Northern Idaho with the state of
Washington. And at the end of my plan, we had already drawn up a constitution, by-laws for the
Interstate Task Force on Human Rights. And that conference gave it legitimacy and we went
from there to do a number of things in supporting each other in both areas.
So I gather you did a lot more of this sort of
Yeah, out of that model came the Interstate Task Force on Human rights that we eventually
formed. Hate group activity began to manifest itself, cross-burning incidents, harassment, and
organized activity, and this was before skinheads surfaced. We had Klan activity and Aryan
activity and your Christian patriots and various assorted organizations that had not been present
before, or known to be present. We became aware of the territorial imperative of these groups,
they were organizing to form a state within a state. The Northwest Aryan Empire.
So what did these groups do to try to counter that?
Well, every year, the World Aryan Congress met at Coeur d'Alene, out at Aryan
seven miles North of Coeur d'Alene. You had up to three or four hundred people coming there.
Kootenai County Task Force on Human Rights, broke off from the Interstate Task Force, so you
had two different groups, after a couple of years. They formed Human Rights Observances in
the City Park downtown, with several thousand people in attendance, and greetings from the
governors of Oregon and Washington. That was my job, to generate these. It was to say, the
media was coming to cover the Aryans, that was news. So this was to say, in effect, that there
are other people besides them, and we stand for human rights, fairness, and say yes to equity,
and so on. But they took on a lot of different projects and programs.
Then there were incidents in Coeur d'Alene, Pocatello, Boise, Portland, Seattle, and it was just
cropping up all over the place. I pulled together about fourteen people from over in Spokane to
sit down and consult together, these would be the NAACP regional president, Human Rights
Commission Representative, and LULAC, and so on. But after we had this initial meeting, we
then decided there was a need for more input. So we held a series of consultations over a year.
First in Spokane, and then in Seattle, then in Portland, then in Coeur d'Alene, and then at the end
year, formed the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment. And that has now
expanded to include Colorado. Surely you know this, or do you?
Oh. Well it's ten years old now, the Northwest Coalition. But it has representatives from the
Governors' offices from each of the five original states that we had involved, Montana,
Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. It's a mix of officials and community leadership.
The NAACP regional offices, and somebody from an Urban League, Latino organizations, one
representative from a police organization in each state, a representative of the Governor's office
in each state, a Human Rights Commission representative from each state, general local coalition
organizational representatives from each state. This is on the Board of Directors. And we've
held a full-time staff of five people. A foundation support of 265 organizations of different
kinds, ranging from the police department to state departments of education, and Diocese. The
local Methodist Church on Mercer Island, was the first church. That's where I lived. The annual
Methodist conference, and even the Northwest Kite-Flyers organization. You don't have to be a
civil rights organization to be concerned about these things. It is 265 organizations. But it's
educational programs, conferences, and there's a big annual conference held in each of the three
states annually. And then smaller conferences are supported.
When an incident occurs, a team will be formed to go there and respond to the problem. I was
the chair of the monitoring committee, which is the main role we had, and that was to document
incidents. If we could document incidents, and show by compilation of credible data, that this
number of incidents had occurred in this community. Or then over to the Northwest, so many
homicides, kidnapping, all of the different forms of violence. We could persuade officials and
public opinion that we have a problem. And that's what we did. We were doing bias-crime data
collection on a five-state basis, way before the FBI started.
We, being CRS?
No. No. The Northwest Coalition was involved in urging National Data Collection for
time before it became mandated by Congress. In fact, I'd done that kind of work in Alabama in
the 1950's, state-wide.
Did you ever mediate a case between a known hate group and a minority group?
I offered. If anyone wants to meet with the Aryans, or feel like it's useful for your purposes
to meet with them, to communicate, to discuss anything with them, let me know and I'll see if I
can arrange such. And nobody has ever requested a desire to do that.
I ask that question, because getting to the next question I wanted to ask you, when
you're dealing with hate groups, how are you able to maintain your impartiality and objectivity at
that particular point?
Oh, with difficulty and with skepticism on the part of the hate groups.
And what did you do?
Well, on Whitby Island, that is the site whereby the leader of the most violent terrorist group
ever to form in the U.S., an off-shoot of the Aryan Nations, formed in Northeast Washington.
There were about 22 people, primarily men, who assassinated Allenberg here in Denver, and
other individuals. Some of the victims were their own members, who were thought to be
informers. They tried to bomb the house of the head of the Northwest Coalition at one point, in
The FBI, in 1984, was able to track that group down, and the leaders were tracked to Whitby
Island. But they had several safe houses up there, right on the edge of the water. They were
surrounded by several hundred law enforcement, and the leader of the group was killed.
Now the Aryans and neo-Nazis go to the State park, which is almost adjacent to this site of his
Martyrdom, as they put it. They hold services. Then, anti-neo-Nazi groups from Seattle and
other places come to the site to protest their presence. A confrontation then develops and law
enforcement's caught in the middle. From the beginning, I was involved in getting the State
Park's people to arrange to meet with law enforcement and the leaders of the protest groups to
meet and sort out ground rules. We discussed what could be expected from each, and that sort of
thing. That doesn't really involve the neo-Nazis. But the neo-Nazis have a campsite that they
usually camped in and people such as newspaper reporters, were filtering down into the
campsite. So I went down and they were chasing them out. I recommended, "What we're trying
to do is avoid violence in this case. This would play into their hands." But we urged them to
talk with the leadership of the group there, who is an old time neo-Nazi. We urged him, "Why
don't you go up there and set up a perimeter at this gate up here, at the top of the road, a hundred
yards from where the campsite is and have somebody up there to meet whatever medial
representatives come there and make a determination as to whether you want them down here in
your campsite. The interview could be done up there, or just to decide whether or not you want
to talk with them at all. " But, not to leave it wide open where conflicts were developing. A lot
of confrontations were developing along that road. They thought that was a good idea, and
followed that suggestion. In subsequent years, I would meet with the first arrivals at the
campsite, and just establish rapport, as tenuous as it was. I was there in the event that some
problems did arise, outside of demonstrations that were orderly and in the area, but not at their
campsite. Things generally worked out very
Are there any other kinds of situations where
mediation's not appropriate?
I don't know. I think it's probably useful in more ways than are generally thought of. I think
it can be used to provide leadership in a community. You may have incidents that are occurring
in a community, where there's no specific party involved, but mediation would work rather than
leaving it as strictly a law enforcement matter.
There was one mediation case I had at an alcohol rehabilitation program. Unidentified persons
were stoning and breaking windows out of this alcohol rehabilitation program, which was a state
run program, but the community was primarily the minority. And who they were doing it to and
why they were doing it was not known. There was no specific set of demands from anybody,
nobody knew why it was being targeted, but apparently a number of people were involved.
Community tensions were being aroused by the continued incidents that were occurring, and I
was able to arrange a meeting between some of the minority community leadership in that area,
the administrators, and county and local administrators of that program, to come up with a joint
statement to the community. But, it was in the form of a mediation agreement. It was signed
and released to the press. The pre-amble stated the value of this program to this community, and
community leaders were affirming this. The institutional officials were stating that they wanted
to be sensitive to community needs, but we need to know what they are and urge people to come
forward and so on. That was a very minor, small scale kind of case, but I think it's one in which
many people would say for an institution to be targeted for vandalism, that's not a mediation
case. But I think it is possible in some circumstances, maybe somewhat like that, to provide
mediation. Providing a joint voice to the community, that would help to provide standards of
behavior or would work to secure such.
Did you ever have a concern that mediation would undercut a
legitimate protest activity?
What did you do in that situation?
In this case in Portland Oregon, the key part of the school desegregation plan was the
development of a particular middle school that would be a feeder for a number of elementary
schools. This was regarded as crucial to the desegregation plan. It was the result of joint
committee work. The white community was contentious. Several school board members ran on
the ticket to change or eliminate this middle school from that role. A majority of those newly
elected people came in the office on January 1, and the first action that they took was to
eliminate that middle school. There was immediate outcry from the black community in the
wake of this.
At the February school board meeting, they met in their usual public session, and shortly after
they got underway, Ronnie Herndon showed up, and Ronnie is the president of Black United
Front. He not only showed up, but he had a large number of his followers that came to the
public meeting. They marched in, and Ronnie stepped up on the top of the desk and proceeded
to walk down the top of the desk. As he came to each name tag plaque, he kicked it off, walked
to the next, symbolically dismissing the school board. That was the declaration of war. Of
course, the chairman of the school board adjourned the meeting, stated that this kind of behavior
is intolerable, and so on. If anything like this was ever repeated, the police would be called.
The March meeting was held, and I think a second meeting was held which was similarly
disrupted, and an injunction was secured in State Court, adjoining Ronnie and the Black United
Front from this kind of activity. Of course, Ronnie predictably said, "We'll fill up the jails."
Marches were held, and protest rallies were held. The board had to approve, in public session so
many days in advance, a $50 million capital improvements program that was desperately needed.
Here's the dilemma. "How do we meet to pass this tax measure officially and legally, without
being disrupted." That was the standoff.
CRS could easily have gone into that situation at a much earlier stage, but we were just watching
it in essence. The community was generating support, and I don't think it was sophisticated
enough to negotiate anything yet. We had very good rapport with all parties involved, including
Ronnie Herndon, the NAACP president, as well as the school superintendents and some of the
school officials. After it was obvious that no breakthrough was forthcoming, and there was the
threat to fill up the jails if they enforce this injunction, we knew it was going to escalate
considerably from that point. We'd been in continuing contact with the parties. "Let us know
when you feel that it would be in your interest to explore some sort of negotiation." Finally, we
got the go ahead. "Yes, now is the time," and this was primarily from the community side. We
met with the school officials, and they arranged a meeting of the board of education, for the sole
purpose of considering whether to go into mediation.
Was this a public meeting?
Oh yeah, open public meeting, and it was packed. Bob Lamb (Regional Director) and
he's African-American, and I'm white and a mediator. We stood up from the audience side and
recommended mediation and outlined the guidelines. This had been explained individually to
some of the board members, but we outlined mediation, which included among other things,
closed sessions. No contacts with media. The chief editor of the Oregon Journal was there, and
he is the chair of the State Press Freedom, it's a professional industry organization. He objected.
I had stated the guidelines and I said, "What option do we have? We do not mediate in public
and we will not mediate in public. We will withdraw from the situation." It was put in just those
terms. Public mediation is built to fail; it would not work. He did not press his objections. The
board voted to go ahead with it. We began mediation in a motel, with the
Black United Front as the lead party with the Ablino Minister Alliance, which is primarily
African American clergy and the Urban League.
Was this with the whole board?
It was the chair and at least one of those who were elected to reject the middle school
proposal. The school superintendent and assistant superintendent were there of course. It just
happened that the term of the previous superintendent had just ended, and the new one came in
and began during all of this. He was black. A lot of hope was put in him to solve this dilemma.
Everybody accepted the ground rules and so on, but one problem did arise on one occasion. The
editor of a black weekly newspaper was in an observer status. The community coalition
supported his involvement, and of course the school district objected to his involvement. He
committed himself to keep the proceedings confidential, and I think he was admitted with this
clear understanding, and accepted by the school district. I think he attended no more than two
sessions. This was the most difficult mediation case I've ever had.
With all the pressures, operating on a deadline that had to be met, to get something worked
out. It was like intransigent parties, and I usually use my fingers like this to describe the process
that we're going through, the charges, counter charges, public acrimony and so on. Tension
building and communication is described like this. They began to consider dialogue, mediation,
and communication gets a little bit closer. Finally, they commit themselves to participating in
mediation, they're talking directly to each other about their concerns and about their charges and
backgrounds. Then, they began to talk about possible solutions, options, and alternatives. They
begin to turn around and accept the fact that they have some common problems. Begin to search
together for ways that they can jointly address those problems together.
Eventually, this school
board, in essence, had painted itself into a corner through the election of these people. "How can
we all discover some way that the school board can change its position on this middle school and
reinstate the status of that middle school without being seen to simply give in to the demands
from the community? What face saving device can we come up with?"
A lot of times, I can have a sense of what mediation is going to take
place, what the answer is
going to be, but this was one I could not see how on earth we were going to come out of this. I
was trying to be positive and upbeat, but I was personally beside myself. By the end of these
evenings, I would feel so discouraged. "I don't know what we can do that would be agreeable to
Finally, somebody hit on an idea. It may have been the superintendent. "Let's hold community
hearings in each of these feeder school communities. There were about four feeder schools.
Let's hold hearings with the parents of each of these and let the parents that are directly involved
have their input by voting on pieces of paper and by statements at the microphone reading the
pros and cons of the reinstatement of the school. All the participants in the mediation will be in
attendance at all four of these." Of course I said, "Who's going to convene these meetings? The
school administration for that school? The PTA president? Who?" They said, "You are." So I
had to arrange all this. All the publicity and promotion of these meetings. Anyway, we held
these. A lot of feeling was vented in these meetings, but we got the data.
I asked the Portland State University Mathematics Professor to collate and weigh the various
responses to the various options. He stayed up to midnight doing this for me. After the four
sessions were over, and I announced the results and gave them his report at the next mediation
session, clearly the four school communities were in support of redesignating the school for this
purpose in the coming year. We'd gotten some ideas in the inputs, too. This became the
backbone of the agreement that was worked out and accepted by the parties. Black United Front
had a meeting and they accepted this, and the Minister of Association and NAACP went along
The school board had to have its session to agree to this action, so they did two things. First,
they had all of us convene with the school board in public session, and it was not disrupted.
They proceeded to support and accept the mediation agreement, which included the reopening of
this school. Then they adjourned to turn the meeting over to me and I witnessed, as we always
did, the signing of the agreement by the chair of the Board of Education and the representatives
from the community organizations. At that point, the press was invited to ask them questions, or
anybody could ask them questions. As I recall, that was the completion of that evening. The
next meeting was when they got together to pass the bond issue. That was a tough, high profile
At different points, the media came to me and said, "If you can't let us
into the meeting, will you have a press conference to tell us what's going on?" I did that and
everybody was there, including TV and radio. This was the lead item on the news for days.
During the protests and during this final period, all I could tell them was about the process that
we were going through. "We have not succeeded in resolving issues in public, so now we're
going to see if we can resolve it behind closed doors. And if we succeed, you will be notified as
to the results and you can ask questions. But until then, we will give them this chance to get
together and work it out in private." That seemed to go over very positively. The media
coverage of this was expected of course, but they gave positive coverage to that meeting.
Going way back to the beginning of this story, what made the minority community decide it
was time to negotiate ?
I don't know. The leadership was sophisticated, and I would assume that it was felt that if
nothing else significant was happening, let's try it now, let's see if we've put on enough pressure.
They were fully aware of the bond issue of course, and the constitutional requirements of so
much advanced notice, prior to the next election for this kind of a vote.
What was the time frame here? How soon before the deadline did it have to be submitted?
It seems like it's as much as three months advance. It was a fairly extended period. There's a
very definite deadline, and if they didn't get their request for the bond issue in by a certain date,
it might be a year. Maybe a special election could've been held later on.
Do you think that deadline was part of what made them decide to sit down at the table,
knowing that they've got pressure on them and they really want this and now is the time?
Or is it if they had passed then there wouldn't be any pressure?
Right, everybody is fully aware of this sense of a deadline.
I'd like to go back and
talk about trust. How important is it that you generate trust between yourself and the parties.
How key is that to what you do?
Trust certainly makes for more effectiveness, it makes one more effective as a mediator, at
least in our culture. There'd have to be some confidence in a person's integrity or their ability, or
else they would probably not be successful in persuading people to make a commitment to
How could you detect when you were succeeding in building trust?
How would I know that I had trust?
How could you tell that you were getting the parties to be more comfortable to trust you
more, to trust the process more? What signs were they giving you?
Well, they would reveal the level of interest in it by questions and comments about it.
Beyond that, I'm not sure that I could give you much of an answer.
Was it something very overt and obvious, as them saying, "Hey, we trust you now," or was it
something a little more subtle than that?
Oh, no it would be more subtle than that, like a willingness to proceed to accept
recommendations or to participate in mediation. You could also tell by their level of frankness
when talking about their concerns.
Were you able to operate if these levels were low or absent?
Was your own race, ethnicity, age, or gender,
ever a problem with you gaining trust?
Oh yeah. I went into Monroe Prison, in the state of Washington, in response to a request
from some of the African American inmates. They had arranged for me to talk with some of
their members of the Black Prisoners Organization. Two or three of the members of this group,
when we sat down to talk, upon hearing my accent, they asked, "Where you from?" "Alabama."
It was immediate skepticism that anybody from Alabama could be of any help in this situation,
or would be willing to be of any help. Really, there were times like this.
How were you able to get around that initial skepticism?
Well, the same way I would when making a presentation to any group. I'd first try to get
myself out of the way, by saying, "My name is Bob Hughes and as you notice, I am not from this
area. I was born and raised in Alabama." Try to be up front and honest and open, and hopefully,
get past that quickly in order to deal with more substantial issues. Deal with issues at hand. I
would usually try to or make a joke about it. "I'm Bob Hughes, and as you noticed, I'm from
South Mercer Island, or south Seattle."
Can you recall any examples of when you were used as a scapegoat
by one of the parties?
No, I don't recall being used in that way.
Did you have a special technique that you used to try to build trust
between the parties?
Getting them to work together, that is part of the mediation process. Maybe in joint
committees, or task groups, which seem to be a very productive area for developing
collaboration. I didn't have any particular exercises, for example, or training in that way that
would have the effect of building trust.
Did you offer any type of training to various parties that were involved in conflict?
Well, I would talk about mediation and explain the guidelines. I might also expound on how
they might comply with these or fulfill these, or react to these in the mediation. But I know that
for some mediators before mediation starts they'll have training sessions with one of the other
parties on how to negotiate, and I've never done that. I felt like it could be difficult to my image
of impartiality. I would always try to do the same thing to both sides, and let each of them know
that I was doing this. We have had cases that would eventually be taken through a process
where you ended up in a training session, but that's a little bit different from what you were
We talked yesterday about the training that was given to police officers. How did that come
Well, we arranged for that. You didn't ask this question but I'll answer it anyway. When
have a minority group that has limited resources and had problems with, for example an
institution that has a lot of resources. When you get down to the point of fashioning an
agreement, the last thing you want is for one side (it's usually the institution) to commit itself to
doing all the things and the other party not committing itself to doing anything. So when you
have this situation where your minority resources are limited it taxes the brains of everybody
when they're trying to fashion an agreement and think in terms of each other. What can we work
out that would help you, where you could help us do these things. Cross-cultural training was an
area that seemed to fit into this, so that you know that is one area. Another one was the idea of
promotion of careers in say, the criminal justice area. The minority community might be
alienated especially by the conflict they are dealing with and would not entertain such thoughts.
But if you have leadership that are urging people to get into this area and we will help you fill
out an application for employment or maybe they could generate a scholarship or that sort of
thing, it's a way of trying to balance the commitments.
I just realized when you spoke with us before I was misinterpreting the term promotion, I
thinking about moving up in rank.
That too, well in the area of affirmative action. I was referring to both the recruiting and
promotions of the existing officers so they have a model they can see that it's that there is a
future. It's important for them to be able to see this.
But the other sense of the word was that the minority community would try to get people to
come into police work.
Promote careers in that professional vocational area.
When you provided typical assistance to one group did you always inform the other group
that you were providing technical assistance to the other group?
Yes, I tried to be open and equal in how I would treat each of the parties. I don't remember
any obvious instances where I either did this unintentionally or was accused of that sort of
How were you able to identify which
community resources to use?
Most the time the parties themselves think of it in the context of our mediation because we
need some of these things done or certain areas addressed. They create some approaches to it
and identify resources that I wouldn't be familiar with at all. Like the one I mentioned this
morning about the attorney justice professional.
So were you always receptive to those community resources that they highlighted or
emphasized, or who had the final say?
Oh it's their agreement, it's not mine. For example, they may want to write into the
agreement this office, this program will be established or developed utilizing such and such a
resource by all means. If both sides agree to it doesn't matter what I think or what I might prefer,
if I see some danger in it, I might mention it, had you thought of this, but essentially I would not
feel that I had any veto power.
In fact, at Monroe Prison I was a mediator involved in segregation of cells. The local TV media
picked up on this. The Native American prisoners inmate caucus, felt that isolation in Native
American culture is much more severe for them than most other cultural groups. In periods of
stress and strain they need contact and everybody recognized that as a need and agreed to it. So
if I had the responsibilities for desegregation I don't tell them you can't do this because I had this
other obligation. They can agree to illegal acts as far as I'm concerned
Can you talk a little bit about how you deal
with apparently intractable demands from the part of one party? Or one party saying well that's
non negotiable, if somebody makes a demand that the other side says is non negotiable and won't
Perhaps in setting an agenda for the sessions as an area that's my responsibility. I might
manipulate the agenda by putting say a particular issue last, on the assumption that, we wouldn't
get to it, or if we got to it we'd be so tired we couldn't deal with it. That's agenda manipulation
which is a prerogative of every mediator.
What if it was a key item?
I don't know. This may not be a direct answer to your question, but I think I had mentioned
sometimes I can anticipate pretty well how a session is going to go. How many meetings we are
going to have and that sort of thing. And there are others like the one I was telling you about
earlier, about the school district. I could not see how under the sun we could come to any
agreement here, but in that case the parties themselves ultimately used the process that we were
going through to create an answer that I simply had not seen. They came up with the idea
bouncing off of each other which was the breakthrough. So, I can't claim any credit for it. I just
managed the process and they came up with the breakthrough and what sure looked to me like an
intractable issue that I couldn't see how to get around it. That's about as much as I can say on
that. But I don't think we ought to sell the parties short. The mediator isn't the all knowing
person. The parties themselves can discover and create things that we can't see.
So you never go
caucus and say, "You better drop that one because it's never going to be solved?"
Oh, well I might go into caucus and give some advice. Or say, this particular issue that
you've raised is going to be pretty difficult to get an agreement on and I would make some
I'm wondering if you would advise parties saying, "I just don't think the other side would
Oh, well I might say that. Meeting with parties in private caucus can be risky because
presumably, they need to be consulting among themselves and really digging down and exposing
their best thinking to each other. And for the mediator to be there and then leave and go over to
the other caucus, at least the thought passes through the minds of most people, "What's he going
to tell them that he's just heard? To what extent? How's he going to help them? Or maybe he
won't?" That is I think a fairly risky area.
So I gather you don't caucus much?
Not much. And it may be to test something out. I may go in and say, "What do you think
about doing this?" I might go back and ask the same question to the other caucus and get their
response and get back together and ask if they would be willing to try this based on what they've
What would make you decide that it's time to do that?
I don't know. Some perception of an idea that arose in the need for some fresh ideas.
But something that you couldn't bring up in joint session.
Well, I mean if they were already in session I reflect on it. In other words, why would I
withhold it until they were in private caucuses? I don't know, I guess you'd say trying to test the
How did you decide when to meet separately with the parties and then when to bring them
together? Presumably at the beginning you are meeting separately with each party. How do you
decide that it's time to bring them together?
Well when I've met separately with them that's primarily for the assessment purposes from
relation of ideas we'd mentioned. And once the recommendations have been made then that
reflects the idea that we should move into mediation. In the Portland case that I mentioned
earlier, we had been in continuing contact with the parties throughout that period of tension and
we didn't make the recommendation for mediation until what might be a fairly late hour. We felt
that mediation would be effective and that the parties would now, likely, be agreeable to
mediation. And check it out individually with them and if they said yes, then we formally
Were there cases
where you never brought the parties together, or never met with them separately?
Never brought them together?
Did you ever do shuttle diplomacy where you just went back and forth, back and forth?
I'd probably regard that as conciliation. You know, I think I'm trying to recall that Georgia
case. That was shuttle diplomacy, taking proposals back and forth getting feedback and counter
proposals. And that's one example where there was no meeting of the parties involved there. I'm
sure it's happened, but off hand I can't remember, nothing comes to mind but I feel sure that it
It sounds like from our conversation that
mostly you rely on the parties to come up with their own solutions, but do you ever develop
solutions and present them to the party?
Oh yeah. Like the fishing rights issues I would share with them how another community in a
conflict situation resolved it. That in effect is suggesting something along this line or asking the
question, "Can you adapt some of this to your benefit?"
Do you do this early on or do you let them grapple with it themselves for awhile and then
present it if they run into trouble?
I would probably do both. It would depend on the degree of conflict and the distance the
parties are apart.
How did you deal with parties who came to the table just giving lip
service who weren't really negotiating in good faith?
Well, hopefully try not to arrange mediation until they were in fact ready to deal with
sincerity. But if it happened anyway I would probably not attempt to go very far before talking
with them privately and pointing out that I felt like they might not be as open as they needed to
be to participate in mediation.
Was it usually handled simply like that? A simple caucus saying, "I don't think you are
as open as you should be." Now do they automatically go back in and are they forthright?
No, probably the next day. We would probably be adjourned for that day. I would not
a change of behavior without some period of reflection on what I was raising.
We talked yesterday a
little bit about power disparity and I think you said that you wouldn't mediate unless there was
some close equality of power. I was thinking at the time in the criminal justice cases where you
have the police and a minority community, it seems to me that would be an instance where you
have a very vast power difference, yet you still, I gather, mediated. How did you deal with that
kind of power difference?
Well, you've got several elements here. Publicity and public opinion are factors. Say the
police did not deal fairly, there is always the possibility of publicity around their decisions that
would make them look bad if they did this. That's outside the room of course. There are always
potential pressure points that the minority community can use if they so chose that would make
for potential build-up of their negotiating position, such as in the Portland case I mentioned.
They were up against a very strong rigid position yet they were able to change that position.
That kind of potential is always out there if it's resorted to and usually does not reflect well on
say the institution that is involved.
Do you ever encourage the minority party to do that kind of power
building, or do you kind of leave it up to them to decide when they need to do it?
I would generally leave it up to them. In between disputes I may have comments to people
I might be discussing or critiquing a case. I might tell one community what happened in another
one. These all convey suggestions, I would guess. I may not do it purposefully but I think that
general kind of information of how the dynamics of one community are being followed are
pertinent to all the communities. They should be aware of these kind of changes I think. I
would tend to share it.
After you've gained some credibility of being
this impartial mediator, was there ever a time when one party asked you to abandon that
impartiality and maybe jump on one side with them?
I don't think so. I usually make it clear in the beginning my value to you is that I be
I can join your side because I might think that it's fair, but that doesn't help you. I just adds one
more person over there. Then who's going to mediate? That's when you need a mediator and so
I need you to help me to stay in that position.
Did confidentially ever become a problem?
We talked about it some yesterday in terms of the fact that you try to avoid it when you can, but
did it ever become a major issue?
I don't think a major issue.
Was there ever a time when you insured party confidentially and you were unable to
that? Where something happened and one party felt that you weren't holding true to your word?
Accusing me of violating confidentiality?
No, I don't recall any.
Or the other groups. Did they ever accuse the opposing group of violating confidentially?
I can't remember off hand. There may have been concerns about the possibility of it, but as I
mentioned earlier it never was a major issue. Allegations of violation of confidentiality I don't
think ever became major issues.
Was it something you could just dismiss as something as not being true, or did you just not
ever address it at all?
Oh if it was of concern to one of the parties I might raise it during a joint
Did you ever do any mediation with the press involved?
No. Let me think if there was any. No.
So the way you dealt with the media was to tell them that there's a process and this is what
process and we'll tell you the results when they come out.
Yes. And I don't recall any instances where either of the parties went to the media and
violated that group rule.
Did any of the parties ever demand having the media present or give
report in order to continue any negotiation process?
No, I don't think so. I remember one case where the media tried every way they could to get
as close to us as they could. We were in that Portland case and we were meeting in this
conference room and it had big windows. Low and behold I was facing the windows and the
parties were on either side of this long table and I suddenly realized as my focus went out the
window there was a camera team set up on the roof of the building across the street aimed right
at us. To us it was a joke because of course they didn't know what was being said, but we
laughed at it and closed the blinds or something like that, or waved at them, but that was
I've got a totally different question for you.
How did the changing nature of the Civil Rights Movement and the protest activity over the
years shape the challenges that you faced as a mediator, or shape the work that you do?
Wording it differently, was there any difference from the early days to the later days in terms of
what you could or couldn't do?
Hmm...the only thing that I can think of along this general line are the changes of mediation
itself as they evolved. In Georgia I was involved in a mediation in which we didn't have any
ground rules at that stage. That was before CRS became involved in formal mediation. For
example, staying out on like the picket line, not a labor management, but a civil rights picket
line, and the leader of the protest group and the official from the institution were out there and
we were talking. Another conciliator and I said, "Well let's jot that down." So on the roof of
this car we jotted these things down. Okay, now you initial it, you initial it, and they did and that
was an agreement and at that moment that kind of confirmed what we had been saying verbally.
So things got more formal over time I guess?
Right, if there was going to be mediation now you go through these steps.
If I can just ask one question to build on that, how did that affect your job?
Well I think formal mediation was a very useful tool for CRS to get at complex issues and to
get a handle on things. Especially when a conciliated verbal agreement on the street or in a
meeting room lasts as long as the memory of the people who are sitting there. But in Fairbanks
some of the school cases we had mediation between the Fairbanks Native Association and
Fairbanks North Star School District. For two years we met every six months or so to review the
progress on the mediation agreement. For two years not a single person was involved in those
sessions that were in the mediation. The Fairbanks FNA leadership had changed and others had
been elected. The school superintendent left there and went away.
What do you think are the most important skills and attributes of the
effective Civil Rights mediator?
I think one of the most important ones is the ability to conceptualize and to formulate. How
to formulate creativity of course. Impartiality, having confidence in people, and communicating
that confidence in such a way that helped strengthen the commitment of people to this process.
I'm not sure. Nothing else comes to mind. I don't recall answering this question lately.
What do you think is your best attribute that makes you, or made
an effective mediator?
Stubbornness, focus, staying with it until we got it finished, not letting people give up.
an attribute. I don't know how central that would be, but it helps. You're stubborn and unwilling
to let your pride be eroded by failure.
Have you ever tried
mediation and it failed? Or have you ever tried conciliation and it failed?
Oh, plenty of cases of conciliation, but I don't know what they were. I conveniently forget
those. If I apply myself, I might come up with something additional. The only
mediation case that I can recall offhand as failing was when I was under a lot of pressure. I had
very little time to assess and to meet with the parties. This was an Indian fishing rights issue in a
fairly small community. When we got to the table, it became evident early on that these
property owners had real little interest or feeling that this was a problem for them. The
complaints had come only from the tribal side. There was only one Indian tribe involved in this
case. I simply didn't have time to assess it adequately, and this could be part of my fault that I
had not given an adequate explanation or a clear explanation of the guidelines of what mediation
is about to the property owners. Therefore, they did not have any real understanding of what we
were about. They should have been able to see that if we have an agreement, we might avoid
problems. But they felt like they didn't have any problems at the time. But in any case, there
was no progress taking place and there was no problem of identification from the standpoint of
the landowner side, and there was obvious disinterest in being there. And as I remember, I
didn't feel well about my own role and the explanations I had been giving. As I recall we spent
an hour or an hour and a half, and that was probably about it. I then adjourned without really
bringing up any confrontation with them. I just adjourned and did not set a time for any next
So what happened to the grievances that the Native Americans had?
They were of a temporary nature, I know that. The problems would be seasonal, and the
that they were concerned about accessing was a fairly small area and it did not appear to be of
great significance to the tribe. They could easily do what they had been doing for the past two
decades, and that's fishing in areas where they weren't being confronted. But I felt bad about it
and couldn't regenerate interest in coming. I didn't feel like there was any interest in pursuing
In cases where parties were committed to the process, did all of them succeed?
Succeeded in varying degrees, of course. You don't necessarily get agreement on all the
issues that are identified, and some will just omit reference to areas where there was no
agreements. Other mediated agreements will go far beyond what was being addressed, and
people become creative in going beyond the initial issues.
Scholars sometimes use the term "ripeness."
Have you heard that term, where we talk about the situation being ripe for mediation, the parties
are ready to come to the table? Or not being ripe? Did you ever try to make an assessment of
what contributes to ripeness and lack of ripeness?
Well, in particular, I don't know about trying to make any purposeful assessment. The
in coming to the table is a factor in every mediation. Unfortunately, because of the pressure of
cases and the geography, I was working all the way from Barrel, Alaska, to Poketo, Idaho, in the
same period. And with the geography involved, and the travel involved, and the lack of money
to travel, there was always modified ripeness. If I can't be there, it doesn't matter if it's ripe or
not, I can't be there. And I try to get the parties to hold off if they are ready. On the other hand,
I'm not sure what else I can say about ripeness. But, I think ripeness is a very valid concept.
What we should never do is rush mediation, when the parties simply aren't ready, even though
we have time available and we are in the area. Because it's not ripe, we shouldn't do it.
There's another area that you haven't touched on, that is, to me very important, and that
is the idea of peaceful resolution of an issue versus pacification. Some mediators will be willing
to pacify a situation, develop a superficial mediation agreement which really doesn't deal with
the main issues -- but has the effect of diverting attention, or diluting attention and commitment
and it's unfair, usually to the community group. I think you'd be more likely to dilute and divert
community organizations rather then governmental institutions, or larger majority
How do you protect against that happening?
Well, just off hand, I'd say these are fairly subjective kinds of judgments that you make.
I know in CRS, the number of mediation cases can be of significance. In
the past, there have been certain factors in personal evaluations relating to the numbers of
mediation cases. These are put into records, to show somebody having mediated this number of
cases during the past year, or certain period. This can have the effect of people developing
mediated cases just for the numbers. A numbers game. I think that's unfair to the parties. It's
important not to let the numbers of cases dilute the significance of the qualitative aspects of
mediation, or mediation casework. Qualitative versus
How long did the typical case last, from the time that you first started
to do the assessment until you got a settlement?
I have mediated, successfully mediated, cases in one trip, say to Juneau, Alaska. Because of
the cost of going there, I could make only one trip up there in the foreseeable future and could
stay there two, maybe three days. So, going in, making the assessment, making the
recommendations, and arranging a joint meeting, and then coming out with a signed agreement
at the end of it. Sometimes, when the train leaves, the train leaves. And if you're not on it,
you've been left behind. So you just have to jam things as far as possible. This may sound
paradoxical, considering what I've just gone over, but if mediation is needed and looks like it can
produce an agreement around significant issues, then heck, go for it and get as much as you can.
I guess that's the reconciliation between my two statements.
What about the exception?
Oh, that's very much the exception.
Okay, so the norm would be how long?
Well, it's according to the case. It just varies so much. Like the Anchorage police
case that I mentioned was as long as a couple of months, maybe three months. I never had any
cases that went beyond three months, and that case was probably as long as any because of
difficulty of accessing the area from Seattle.
The reason that I ask that is that a lot of the folks that we spoke to, talked about cases that
would take several months. I can think of a couple that took up to a year. Recently, we talked to
Leo Cardenas. Dana asked, "How long does your typical case last?" He said, "Two or three
days." We both looked at him like, "Geez, there's a wild discrepancy here." So we were
talking to Dick and said, "Dick we are really astonished because everybody else has been talking
about two or three months and Leo's talking about two or three days. What's the deal?" And
Dick said, "Well, everybody else is talking about the high profile cases and Leo's talking about
the day-to-day stuff." So I was just trying to figure out where you were on that continuum.
I've heard of cases that go on for a year or more, but I would close the case and go back a
year later and re-open it or something. That, to me, is unrealistic. Some other factor is
apparently at play here.
So are there any questions that we should have asked that we didn't ask? Are there other
stories that are worth telling?
That's another can of worms, so you better watch out.
Any key lessons we're missing here?
There's one conciliation case among the Nez Perce Indians in Northern Idaho and the State
Department officials of Idaho. There was one summer where there was a confrontation between
the younger travel fisherman who traveled a hundred miles off the reservation to a site near a
state hatchery. Anyway, a confrontation had developed and I knew that it was pending. The
confrontation had developed as the Indian camp, which was along the side of the river, was
invaded by the state department fishers and a forestry specialized team. I won't call it a swat
team, but it was a specialized and very mobile team, trained and well-armed of enforcement
There were about thirty Native Americans, or tribal members, in the encampment in all. Men,
women, and children. About a dozen members of this swat team would make sweeps through
the village, looking for illegally caught salmon that was not in season. These sweeps would
occur at any hour of the day or night, without warning. The agents would go into teepees and so
on. This created a lot of tension. I was there, sort of on the sidelines, because these operations
had been set up and planned in Boise, well in advanced of the season, when the fishing opened
and the run began.
One time, when they made the sweep, the Indians chased them out of the village with clubs, not
firearms. But, they were chased up the hill to the road where the truck of the troopers was there
to pick them up. This was all on foot. Well, as they approached the truck, the Nez Perce Indians
caught up with them and cut them off from accessing the trunk. They had their cars parked in
this area, the tribal members did, and they were unlocking the trunks, but not opening them.
Several obvious guns were in there and it was clear that they were on the verge of a firefight.
The state enforcement officers had shotguns and they began to chamber their weapons. They
were almost surrounded and backed up against their truck. The Indians were moving in on them,
shouting, with clubs. With the weapons that were obviously there, I felt that when it came down
to it, the last resort was that I had to walk over between them and tell them to stop. "Somebody's
going to get killed here, and none of us want bloodshed if it can be avoided. Tom, I want you to
select one or two persons. And Bill, I want you to select one or two persons with you, and in
two hours from now, I want you to meet me over at my motel. We're going to work out an
alternative to settling this thing. In the meantime, you have your people turn around and go back
that way, and you have your men get in that truck and go back to your camp." And it worked.
A couple of hours later that evening, we worked out an agreement that would establish a process
that they were willing to follow in establishing communication and in inspecting the camp.
They were calling it a sweep, but it was "inspecting the camp" for these purposes. "It will be
done at these reasonable hours. And when you approach, you will wait until one of these
designated persons comes to meet you and escort you through." And that seemed to defuse the
There was a television camera team on-site from Boise, that filmed the confrontation. The
governor saw it that night on the evening news, and he sent his legal representative up. There
were some state patrolmen involved there, too. Highway patrol. The governor has authority
over highway patrol, but not the Commission of Fish and Game. He had no authority over them,
but he sent legal council of the state department of law enforcement up by helicopter that night,
and it landed in the field out there. There was a big stir and he had the captain in charge of that
state patrol unit order them back to the barracks. He did not want the state troopers providing
support for the fishery enforcement personnel. The legal council of the tribe, and the legal
council for the state department of law enforcement, and the tribal chairman, and I got a group
together representing both sides. Together, we realized that we did not know what the law
provided and what the law did not provide.
We decided to meet at the University of Idaho, at the Law School, and have a conference and
invite representatives of other tribes. It would be co-sponsored by the Department of Justice
Community Relation Services, Nez Perce tribe, State Department of Idaho, law enforcement of
Idaho, and the Law School. We had about a two day conference, Indian Law and Jurisdiction
was the title that we gave it. Other tribes sent some people in, because they had similar
problems. Not necessarily fishing, but traffic control on the reservation. That was very
successful in establishing a collaborative approach. This developed relationships, trust building,
and so on.
The following year, instead of meeting at the university, we went to Spokane. There's a large
convention hotel, and we had 300 or more people attending from all over the Northwest. Some
were there from other parts of the country, experts on Indian Law and Jurisdiction, conducting a
seminar on fishing and other law enforcement jurisdictions. It was very successful. That all
grew out of that. Guys involved in that confrontation jointly sponsored Native American and
official agencies. That model was unique in the country. You've had one party or the other
holding these conferences at universities while we're here, but not a jointly sponsored,
That was also the model that we used in the Northwest Coalition. Officials and Civil Rights
Groups together, making a collaborative program, and forming approaches to those hate issues.
The same thing in these Native American fishing issues. Both of them were unique and there
had not been that kind of joint collaborative effort in either area previously. Well hey, I didn't
realize it was going to get into all of that, but some of these, which may seem to be a little, fairly
limited, area of mediation will channel conflict to the table. At the table, we don't have it all
here either. "We better involve some other resources and do something." It kept growing and
growing until it developed to that scale, and a lot of that seemed to put a cap on a lot of those
confrontation issues. The sponsorship in the second of those Indian Law Jurisdiction
conferences was very broad, with the Northwest Tribal Law Enforcing Association, the State
Department of Law Enforcement, for 2 or 3 states, the Northwest Indian Treaties, the Northwest
Indian Tribal Council and so on. They were authorities from all over the
So when we were talking about pacifism, you
wanted to add something.
Not pacifism, but mediation as a means of pacification. I think it is an
unfortunate use of that process and we must, as responsible mediators, always keep in our mind
peace with justice as the ultimate answer. Obviously, peace without justice is temporary peace.
Justice issues would be back to be raised again in a matter of time, and the idea of pacification is