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 Tribes haven't convinced their Chiloquin community
by KBC news reporter 11/14/03

On November 12th, the Klamath Tribes invited their Chiloquin community to discuss their plan.  One would have thought that their community would support the tribal forest acquisition plan, however that did not happen. Over 90 people came to listen and ask questions.

Tribal Chairman Allen Foreman explained with a Power Point presentation how they don't have the millions of acres that they used to, it was taken from them without a vote, and they could do a better job caretaking the forest than the Forest Service does. Then he opened the meeting for questions and comments.

The first to address the panel of Indians and the crowd was Dr. Calvin Hunt, who began his medical practice in Klamath Falls in 1947. Being paid by a tribal government agency, he provided free medical service to all Tribal Members.

With documents to support his claims, he said that the tribes in fact did vote on selling their land and terminating the reservation. Every member received bulletins explaining what the vote would entail, many informational meetings were held, and registered letters were sent to every person certifying they received a ballot.  With 2,133 voting members, 77 percent of the Klamath Indians chose to sell.. He brought informational papers for the audience to have, with his sources of information included.

"My father owned land in Merrill, and he sold it, and I want it back!"  Dean Haskins of Merrill did not feel that giving them back land that they voted to sell was right.

Jim Kincaid, from Chiloquin, used to come from his home in California and clean tons of garbage annually from the Klamath River.  He questioned their forest stewardship.

Tribal member James Sandoval asked how they expect to run 600,000 acres of forest land when they can't run the casino, which is losing money.

A tribal woman said, I don't know about you following the customs, but I'm keeping my washer and dryer.  And I wouldn't want to go down the river and beat my clothes with a rock because the river is too polluted. And I'm keeping my car keys!

Before the tribes, farmers, and Rangeland Trust began talking about making a plan to address the basin, it was portrayed that this would be a 'water for land' swap, with irrigators getting guaranteed irrigation water.  The tribes made it clear that they will not give up any water rights. 

There are many many questions about returning 690,000 acres of the forest to be part of the tribes 'sovereign nation', and the community is waiting for more answers.  From what they have seen of the tribe's stewardship of their land and wildlife and casino, they are not yet convinced that this is a good idea.

 

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