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Feud between Cowboys, Indians
Shasta Indian, County Republicans unite against dam removal
By Phil Hayworth Pioneer Press, February 18, 2009
How does a small county such as Siskiyou fight overwhelming, goliath-like population centers in places like San Francisco and Portland, often represented by lobbyists, big money lawyers and rabid environmentalists?
Last week, the Shasta Nation - not to be confused with the Shasta Indian Nation -- and the South Siskiyou Republican Women signed onto a resolution written by Siskiyou's Republican Central Committee opposing dam removal.
Other groups are expected to soon sign onto the resolution which will be sent to the California's Republican leadership with the hope that the presentation of a unified front will convince state Republican leaders to fight against dam removal in the halls of the state Assembly and Senate - and all the way up to the halls of Congress. Ultimately, resolution authors hope Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will see the light and come to Siskiyou County and learn about how important the dams are to area farmers, ranchers and landowners.
"We've already gotten some great feedback from state Republican party delegates," said Brandon Criss, chairman of the Siskiyou Republican Central Committee who authored the resolution.
And now, with the support of the Shasta Nation, the dam issue might no longer be viewed as an Indian-Cowboy war, he said - a picture that has been used very effectively by Indian groups and others to tug on the heartstrings of urban voters who have little clue about the importance of the dams to rural Oregon and California counties.
"Let it be duly noted that the Shasta Nation recognizes green-energy, and supports hydro-power currently in place within Shasta Nation territory," reads a letter signed by Shasta Nation chairman Roy Hall, Jr. and vice chairman Gary Lake. "The Shasta Nation respects water required to sustain farms and communities."
The Shasta support is exactly opposite the vociferous and often ferocious attacks by the Karuk, Hoopa and Yurok tribes, who have waged an all-out public relations war against Klamath Basin and Siskiyou farmers, ranchers and - lately - gold miners.
Fish, Indians, Cowboys, Farmers and dams can co-exist, say opponents of dam removal. Specifically, reads the resolution:
"Construction of the Long Lake Project in Klamath County, Oregon; proposed Clear Creek to Deer Creek (Hart) Bypass for fish passage around Irongate, Copco I and II; implementation of wild fish propagation through ARED program; study of C. Shasta parasite disease effecting 90 percent mortality of juvenile salmonoid migration to the Pacific Ocean; initiate study of ocean habitat conditions."
Criss said the goal of the resolution is to prompt the governor to physically come to Siskiyou County and witness the hydroelectric dams - and, perhaps by doing so, get a better appreciation of the clean energy produced.. Even more, he'll understand what Herculean tasks lay ahead if the dams come down.
"We want him to see this issue in terms of clean energy, understand what floating a $250 million bond in our tough economy means and practice the concept that the government that is closest to the people governs best," Criss said.
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