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Fables and Truths (regarding the Klamath Tribes)
Herald and News letter to the editor 7/6/05

The dictionary states that a fable is a narration enforcing some useful truth.

In regard to Dylan Darling's recent rehash of tribal history, he did a good job, but I differ on a few points.

The Klamath Tribes do not hold a trump card on water issues. The Treaty of 1864 made no mention of water but granted them the right to hunt, fish, and gather food and fiber.

After much litigation in past years, as high as the Supreme Court, in 1995 the federal courts upheld Oregon's assertion of the McCarran Amendment Jurisdiction, meaning the tribes had to file their water right claims with the Oregon Water Resources Department or else forfeit those rights forever.

As a consequence, in April 1997 the Tribes claimed almost all the water on or pertinent to the former reservation. In an effort to seek negotiated resolution of tribal water rights, an alternative dispute resolution process was developed. Many water rights still need to be adjudicated, and no decision has been made regarding tribal claims.

It is encouraging that Alan Foreman does acknowledge that the Klamath Tribes have not always been self-sufficient but relied on the U. S. government for medical care, schools and tens of millions of dollars for social services.

It was very enlightening to recently read about a criminal case in another state involving a sovereign Indian tribe in which the tribe blocked access to federal investigators.

The Klamath Tribes is a "sovereign nation," such as Mexico or Canada, with its own laws and constitution, giving it authority and jurisdiction over all persons and activities within its domain.

In 2004, in response to a petition, "1,339 property owners stated their opposition to returning any part of the former reservation to the "sovereign Klamath Indian Tribe."

In a recent statement in the Herald and News, Foreman stated, "The land is where we get our living." In reality, the Indians rely on the grocery store, gas station and U.S. tax dollars.

It is hoped that an adequate reservoir for water from the Upper Klamath Lake will soon be developed and the terrible injustice of sucker fish and spotted owls will become past history as the result of a modified Endangered Species Act.

Calvin L. Hunt

Klamath Falls, OR




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