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Klamath tribes converge for wild salmon

Klamath tribes spoke truth to power at an anti-Endangered Species Act (ESA) rally and hearing today, July 17, 2004, in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The Klamath River issue has been the most contentious Western water struggle of the last ten years with rallying from right-wingers and massive fish kills of native salmon shaking the communities of Southern Oregon and Northern California.
Klamath tribes spoke truth to power at an anti-Endangered Species Act (ESA) rally and hearing today, July 17, 2004, in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Klamath tribes spoke truth to power at an anti-Endangered Species Act (ESA) rally and hearing today, July 17, 2004, in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The Klamath River issue has been the most contentious Western water struggle of the last ten years with rallying from right-wingers and massive fish kills of native salmon shaking the communities of Southern Oregon and Northern California.
Klamath tribes spoke truth to power at an anti-Endangered Species Act (ESA) rally and hearing today, July 17, 2004, in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The Klamath River issue has been the most contentious Western water struggle of the last ten years with rallying from right-wingers and massive fish kills of native salmon shaking the communities of Southern Oregon and Northern California. Members of the Klamath tribes and coastal fishermen have long fought for more water for Salmon, but some water users think the solution is to take away all legal protections for Klamath Salmon and Suckers. Allen Foreman who chairs the Klamath Tribes said at the end of the hearing, "Don't forget that were people here before the Klamath irrigation project."
As a response to one-sided testimony, native tribes and environmental supporters from throughout the Klamath region converged upon the Ross Ragland Theater. Over 150 people marched in a procession through downtown before overwhelming a Republican rally that included its own cavalry, giant bucket, and loaded logging truck. The parade and rally included native drumming and singing along with a march. They urged Republican lawmakers to consider the economic and cultural impacts of salmon extinction to all the downriver and Native American communities and remember that they are people too. Locals cannot seem to remember the last time native people and environmentalists rallied together in Klamath Falls in such numbers.
At the event, Republican lawmakers spoke and received testimony mainly from local irrigators and wise-users whom complained the ESA has hurt them economically. In the testimony only one representative from the five tribes of the Klamath River and one fisherman were invited to speak. Retired farmer Dave Carmin from Chico California said that the Endangered Species Act is a "tool to destroy rural America."
Several Western Republican lawmakers stated opposition to the ESA. Representative John Doolittle said "Look what happened to the logging industry since these phony concepts like spotted owls."
Not all who attended the day's events agreed with the Republican lawmakers. "You know there are some people who are really trying to do some good things to help resolve the water conflict in this basin," said Pety Brucker who lives down river in the Salmon River Community. "It's a shame when some of the more extreme factions hijack their message and promote polarization for their own political purposes. What we need instead is de-polarization so that we can build the trust needed to develop a whole basin solution that includes everyone: tribes, farming, fishing, agencies, environmentalists, academia, and others."

homepage: homepage: http://klamathforestalliance.org


AUDIO FILE: Klamath Basin Water and Tribal Rights 17.Jul.2004 15:30

Jim Lockhart eagleye@PhilosopherSeed.org

STRONG>The 9th annual Environmental Justice Conference, organized by the Coalition Against Environmental Racism, was held in Eugene Oregon over the week end of January 23-25, 2004.
Saturday afternoon I attended a panel entitled Klamath Basin Water and Tribal Rights. This is an audio report of the two speakers from that panel.
The first speaker was Don Gentry, of the Klamath Tribe.After playing a song on his flute and saying a prayer in his language, he spoke of the history of his people and the area which they share with two other tribes, those to the south and those to the east.
He laid a little foundation for what the next speaker had to say, focusing on "the living and thriving community of Native Americans where we are at. And, despite everything that has happened to us with the loss of our reservation over time, parts of our lifestyle and culture are still there, the hunting, fishing, gathering lifestyle that allowed us to survive, even Mt. Mazama blowing and creating Crater Lake. Those parts of our culture are still alive are valued today. We are still linked to our natural resources."
He speaks of the establishment of his reservation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs management of it, and the loss of that Reservation which is now managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Yet, "we still hunt, fish, we gather; we still have legends we try to teach our people. And we're trying to bring forth, with everything that's coming against us, the things that are important and will allow us to survive into the future."
He then goes into a history of his people, "how the treaty was established and the reservation was formed, and how the land has changed until we're in the postion that we are in now. And give folks an understanding of why we have treaty rights even."
Many non Indians question why Native people's have these special rights, and this is especially the case when there is a battle over natural resources, such as whaling with the Macah, fishing rights in Washington state, or the recent struggle over access to water here in the Klamath basin. "I feel that it's important for people to understand where we are coming from and the o nly thing we ask as a tribal people is that you consider our rights, so to speak. I believe the Creator placed us where we are at. Our legends have us created there. We've been in that basin according to archeological evidence for 14 thousand years."
Don speaks eloquently and with passion for his people, and for a way of life they are struggling to maintain and prosper. He continues to speak for about a total of 20 minutes, setting the stage for the next speaker who will give a history of water usage in the area. Though the tribes reserved first rights of the water to themselves and the needs of their culture, the government slowly permitted developing needs to compete or eclipse the aboriginal rights of the Klamath tribe.
Don Gentry
The second to speak was Bud Ullman, an attorney for the tribe. He says that he wants "to deal with two matters having to do with land and water issues in the Klamath Basin from the standpoint of the Klamath tribes....First of all I want to deal with overappropriation of the water resource." According to Allman, "there have been committments made to Indian people's that have been overwhelmed by subsequent committments to other people and all of them add up to more committments of water than Nature gives us...."
"The second thing I want to talk about is the experience in the Klamath Basin with disparaging resource related communities, particularly the Indian community and the really unfortunate precipitation of violence that occurred there two years ago."
The goal of the treaty of 1864 was two fold: it wanted to open the area for settlement, but also to preserve the self sufficiency of the Indians people of the area. "This included a promise to continued access to fish and wildlife resources on which they depended, and a promise of enough water to support those resources....These were reservations made by the Indian people with the assent and the guarantee of the United States of rights that the tribal people always had." This promise was to the Klamath in the north and the Karuk, Hoopa and Yurok tribes, which were the Federally recognized tribes on the California end of the river.
Over the course of the next century or so, other demands were made of the precious water resource, "to anybody who would do that hard work of homesteading in an arid land." No attempt was made to reconcile these new demands with the treaty promises given to the native peoples of the area. "On top of that, the states of Oregon and California undertook their own water permitting systems in addition to the water permitting system that the U.S. had developed....these systems continue today unreconciled with the earlier committments of water that had been made to Native people......nor is their a system reconciling the state and federal water permiting system in the Klamath irrigation project."
Two more demands were soon made of the water. The next was a hydroelectric system on the Klamath River, consisting of six dams, which, although these are not consumers of water, they have a great impact on the water quality and the timing of the flows, affecting the fisheries. And, "the construction of the dams completely extirpated the anadromous fish from the upper Klamath Basin....which at one time were the third largest run of anadromous fish on the west coast." Again, this demand was added to existing demands with no attempt to reconcile them.
"And finally, the wildlife refuges. The Klamath Basin hosts about 80% of the birds on the Pacific flyway in the course of a year.....here again is another committment that has been made to keep these Refuges lively as refuges, that has not been reconciled with the other committments of water in the Basin."
From here Bud talks about the second point of his presentation, the process of demonizing the "sucker fish," and from there the people whose subsistance lifestyle depended upon them. A process that soon led to violence and discrimination and the endictment of some local people on hate crime charges.
This file is about 30 minutes in length.
Bud Ullman



Klamath Field Hearing on the Endangered Species Act 21.Jul.2004 08:39

Connie Stringer

On Saturday, July 17, 2004, in Klamath Falls, Oregon, Tribal members representing the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa and the Klamath Tribes along with environmental supporters marched down Main Street in response to an "our way or no way" Anti-ESA Rally and Hearing.

Representative, Greg Walden was present at the hearing organized by the US House Natural Resources Committee, Republican lawmakers listened to testimony from numerous speakers representing local irrigators and WiseUse/PropertyRights adherents at the one sided Anti-ESA Hearing. While only one five minute speaker representing four different Tribal Governments whom have been spiritually and economically devastated by the decline of native salmon was allowed to give testimony.


To add insult to injury the rally marchers were greeted at the hearing entrance by a loaded logging truck, an obnoxious giant bucket and a mounted Calvary in an apparent display of aggressive power meant to intimidate and demonstrate a right-winged show of oppressive control over the ten year water struggle in the Klamath Basin. Unfortunately no conflict resolution can be reached unless all parties and concerns have equal representation. In an area with a long history of oppressive behavior towards Native Peoples, one Tribal member and rally marcher summed up their plight, "We are people too"!