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Letters to the editor

published Dec. 30, 2003

Don't give it back

I have attended several meetings that the Klamath Tribes have opened to the public regarding the "negotiations" with the government to give back 690,000 acres of the Winema and Fremont National to the Klamath Tribes.

My first concern is the "give them back the forests." The tribes have been paid several times to the estimated tune of $891 million ($1,291 per acre) in 2003 dollars. That some tribal members spent their money unwisely or were bilked out of it, no matter how unfortunate, is not for us to reimburse. We have all made unwise investments we wish we could have back.

How many times do we (as U.S. citizens) have to pay for the same land?

Another major concern is the fact that we live on 20-plus acres surrounded by the Winema National Forest, and if this goes through, we will find ourselves in the middle of a reservation and will have to conform to tribal rules that have not even been adopted yet.

We have heard of other tribes in other states assessing fees on current landowners to travel to and from their property because it is on reservation lands, and there could be fees for the use of our own well water that is located on our own property. That is absurd.

We have no desire to move again or sell the property, or answer to another sovereign nation.

I would also like to respond to a letter written by Sam McKeen Dec. 9. He said: "They (the Indians) have been second-class citizens in the past," and then he goes on to say "and did not have the keen business intellect that was necessary to protect them." 

Not keen? Being paid over and over again to the tune of $891 million for the same land appears very keen to me. But the most absurd thing of all is that they want us to give them back the land (no mention of payment to purchase), so that they can (no doubt) re-sell it to us at a later date after they log all the merchantable timber off the land.

At all the meetings I have attended, the Tribes keep saying they want self-sufficiency, but have hardly mentioned preserving their culture, so it appears all they really want is the revenues from the forest. So we are back to dollar signs again. Will this ever stop?

Allen Foreman, tribal chairman, informed us at the Beatty meeting, that the Tribes are going to get something and that we will not like it (no matter what it is), so that we have to negotiate with them now over the land and water issues.

I hope everyone realizes the importance of these meetings and the fact that at present we all get to use the forestlands.

I don't believe they should be given back to the Tribes, but remain in control of the government for everyone to use. I believe our concern should be focused on re-establishing the game and enforcement of fish and game regulations. There should be opportunity for everyone to hunt, fish and recreate equally.

I think as citizens of the United States, the Tribes should have rights and privileges equal to all other citizens of the United States, and should have to give up their special hunting, fishing and gathering rights.

Roxanne Rapalyea


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