After a few brief words by the moderator, the mike was opened up to whomever wished to speak to the issue at hand, the damns on the Klamath river that are destroying the fisheries and Native American cultures who have subsisted in large part on these salmon runs for thousands of years.|
Youth and elders, Native and non Native, angry, sorrowful, all spoke of their loss, the loss to their people and to the economy of the area. Some spoke of the presence of poisonous algae which often prevents the people from enjoying what remains of one of the greatest salmon fisheries in the world.
Some spoke of the Web of Life, a web of which the salmon and the river itself are only a part; some spoke of the ageless dependence of people on the fish and the fish on the people, a symbiotic relationship going back into the dark shadows of time itself.
It was heartbreaking to see these people pour out their hearts to that cold, concrete tower, receiving nothing from them in return, nothing but the nervous stares of the people rushing by and into the building, nothing but the stoic stare of security guards maintaining a perimeter, courteously respected by all who attended the event.
But that PacifiCorp stone obelisk stands there, mute and defiant, as do these dams, strung as much across the ages, across that thread of descendants and ancestors as between the shores of that Klamath River. It stands there unyielding, a barrier to the fish and to the celebration of ceremonies sacred and ageless and infinitely more real than concrete and shareholders and profit margins.
As one speaker said, these dams will come down. But, will it be in time to "Bring the Salmon" home? Will these young people who shyly approached the mike one day enjoy that sacred relationship with the earth, the river, the fish that the elders spoke of with such joy and sharp pangs of memory?
Will those of us sympathize with these brave people add our voice to the outcry that is rising from their hearts, their minds and their spirits, year after year returning and respectfully requesting that PacifiCorp Un-dam the Klamath?
Whether or not they used the word itself, they all spoke of Community, the belief that all things are united in one song, one dance, one universe. We are all a part of that Community, the fish nations, the standing people, the crawling, flying, two legged and four legged who move about upon the Earth.
Our voice should be shared, should join those who ask only for Justice, for Community, for Life!