Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
 

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#2 Chairman Foreman's Power Point presentation

Tribal makeup: So, anyway, the Klamath Tribes are made up of, as you can see here on the chart, 3 distinct tribes, the Klamaths, the Modocs and the Yahooskin band of Snake Indians.  As you can see here, the original territories that they kind of originated from in those areas there.  Collectively, we would control over 22 million acres of land in Northern California and Southern Oregon.  In the Treaty of 1864, we ceded in excess of 20 million acres and retained what was to be a permanent homeland of some 2.1 million acres.  This was the amount determined to be an adequate base for subsistence for the tribes.  We did this for 2 reasons.  First, it was to live in peace and harmony with our new neighbors, and second , to be able to continue living our way of life that we had lived for hundreds of generations.  By 1907, intentional surveying irregularities  had reduced the size of the reservation to approximately 1.2 million acres. At this point, our subsistence base has been reduced by 50%, not taken into account the fact that our population and needs had nearly doubled.  By 1957, at the time of Termination, our land base had been reduced even further to 880, 000 acres. 

Termination: One brief point about Termination that I would like to make, is that at no time did the Klamath Tribes ever vote for Termination.  We had no choice in the matter.  In many ways it was similar in many respects to the ONRC proposal of today.  A Termination of private landowners.  The only difference is the Termination back then was taken seriously, but nonetheless, the idea was still as ludicrous as it is today.  I think another point to make, pertaining to Termination, there were a great number of Tribes throughout the United States that were slotted for Termination, and in every case, they were terminated, so that would give you an indication of the fact that none of them had a choice.  It is common knowledge throughout the community and many old timers here that when the Klamath Tribes were healthy and strong, the entire Basin was healthy and strong.  Over the next 30 years or so, the Tribes suffered tremendously because of the effect that Termination had on us.  The loss of life we suffered was devastating, numbering in the 100s.  It was like a plague.  I don't know of a tribal family that was not affected by the loss of a loved one.  The social impacts on the tribal members were equally devastating.  Our social values were ripped apart by the impacts on our culture and the breakdown of our family structure and the loss of our language.  Recently, the United States has taken a stand against such deplorable actions like ethnic cleansing in places like Bosnia and Kosovo.  The Termination Policy was nothing sort of ethnic cleansing.  In spite of it all, we never ceased to exist as a nation and as a people.  In 1986, we were again reorganized as a nation by the Federal Government.  Through it all our Treaty Rights and our Treaty remained intact. 

Past Resources
Food:
We've got a historical overview of our resources here.  The Klamath, Modoc, and Yahooskin people lived and survived in the Klamath Basin since the beginning of time.  We pursued subsistence activities, which provided for the needs of our people.  An example, my people, the Modoc Tribe of lower Klamath Basin, utilized at least 98 different species of plants and over 50 different animal species.  Quoting from the words of Samuel Clark, who was an early white settler near the traditional Modoc Territory, he witness the increasing white settlement of the area, the Modoc War, and the changes brought to the wilderness landscape.  Years later, he wrote of the land taken from the Modoc People,  "Such as it was, it does not seem as the Anglo-Saxon greed could have spared it and passed it by  187.  We may take our cattle there and pasture them, but we cannot make the wilderness to bud and blossom with our own fields and gardens.  All of the thousand things that were so useful to the Modocs, will be useless to us, the birds and fishes, the roots, fruits, and berries that gave them subsistence will be lost to all the human family, for there will be no more Modocs left to gather and use them."  That is a quote from, again, an early writing.  Like the early immigrates of this country whose livelihood depended on the resources that the land provided for their subsistence, the people of the Klamath Tribes have always depended upon the abundant natural resources of the land.  The land produced everything we need.  We have always been heavily dependent upon the plants, roots, and berries for a variety of uses including food, shelter, and medicines.  The lakes, marshes, and streams in the Basin produce a variety of fruits and plants.  The mussels or  fresh-water clams, the crawdads, and a variety of fish are eaten fresh or dried for later use.  The tules were used for a variety of things including  mats and shelter material and the roots were eaten for food.  Locusts are an abundant and popular food source.  It is a very important source for the tribe.  Waterfowl that once blackened the skies over the basin produced not only food, but their feathers were used for insulation in clothing, down coats, bedding, feather pillows, mattresses, and blankets.  Once, they were used for insulation of our wickiups.  The big game herds that were once abundant in the basin including the deer, elk, and the antelope are an important source of food.  The byproducts, the horns, the hides, the sinew, the hooves, and the bones are still used in traditional clothing and decorations.  And as you can see with these pictures here, not only the abundance of the deer herds have been reduced dramatically but the size in general.  That shows the condition of the habitat.  Traditionally, it was not uncommon to get up to a 300-pound deer.  Today, it is not uncommon to get a 125-pound deer.  In addition, there were many other species of fur bearing animals that are or have been important to our livelihood.  The black bear, the cougar, porcupines once lived here, the antelope, the muskrat, the groundhog are in very limited numbers.  All are important, not only to the tribes but to the balance of the whole ecosystem.  All of these resources from the mountain tops to the stream beds are not only a part of who we are but also a vital part of our spiritual connection to all things. 

Forest and Marsh: Another important point to remember about is the Tribe's economy is not based on dollars and cents.  Even though we depend on the dollar heavily today, in today's world, our economy is based on the availability of resources that we depend on for our daily existence.  Most of the reservation lands were--this is the historical condition--the habitat.  Most reservation lands were old-growth, pine-dominated forests.  As you can see in these pictures it is excellent habitat for all the species.  Natural fire for part of the ecosystem management.  In 1960, there were about 600 miles of roads on the former reservation.  Until 1970, there were less than 11,000 acres of irrigated agriculture within the former reservation boundaries.  The majority of irrigated lands were in Modoc Point and the Wood River areas.  Deer herd's wintering lands were open and abundant.  The Klamath Marsh had over 20.000 acres of seasonal open waters, and as you can see in this picture, this picture is entitled 10,000 acres of  Wocus.  The Sycan Marsh was fully functional as a natural marsh.  

Present conditions: Now the current condition of the habitat:  Today there is a shift away from the historical pine-dominated forest.  The suppression of natural fires has caused an overloading of fuels causing several stand-replacement fires within the past 2 decades.  Today, there are over 6000 miles of roads on the former reservation.  Today there are over 50,000 acres of irrigated agriculture that is in the former reservation boundaries.  Wintering grounds for the deer are nearly gone and mostly under private ownership.  The seasonal open waters of the Klamath March is less than 1/3 of it original size, about 7000 acres, and the Sycan Marsh has been drained for grazing.  As you can see by this chart, nearly all the resources that sustain us and provide for our livelihood are nearly gone.  As you can see, the Tribe historically, these are figures provided by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife, and in 1960 there were 44,000 deer, today there are less than 4000.  At one time there remained millions of pounds of salmon coming up these rivers that, we are at the forks of  2 rivers right here where we sit.  Today, there are zero.  There were hundreds of tons of c'wam and qupto harvested not only by tribal members but non-tribal members.  Today we can take 2 a year for ceremonial purposes.  There was a real abundance of roots and berries that we gathered.  That resource has been diminished greatly, and again, the 10,000 acres of Wocus that area has been diminished greatly due to poor water quality for the aquatic resources.  Nearly all of our traditional gathering places are in private hands.  Many of you can identify or know where this location is.  If you look real closely, you can see the dam right there.  This is down beyond Olene Gap, down there.  Until 1930, we were allowed to fish and gather in many of our traditional areas off the reservation.  Today, those areas are all gone to us.  The tribal members had exclusive hunting, fishing, and gathering rights on our former reservation until Termination.  Today, only a fraction of those resources remain, and we're required to share many of them with the general public.  Many of the older, old-time, non-tribal residents remember how abundant those resources were as well.  Today, the tribes are forced to act because of loss of livelihood.   Maintaining the status quo is not beneficial to anyone.  Tribal members are being forced to live on diminished resources.  Our situation, just like that of the agricultural community is critical.  This is a way of life that we have always lived.  It is part of our culture that we must protect and restore for future generations. 

Future: For the future, I see the possibility of a future where we can all live in harmony, one where we can all live together and help each other.  A community where there is hope, respect and a future for our children.  A community where we can all learn from each other.  I believe there is but 1 way to peace and stability for all.  That is the way of reconciliation, of together seeking mutually acceptable solutions, of together discussing what the Klamath Basin should look like, of negotiation with a view of a permanent understanding.  What must happen to make this work?  We believe that storage is a necessary component.  While the Tribes favor natural storage, we are open to other ideas.  Restoration of the Upper Basin habitat and resources is vital.  We must all be assured a stable water supply to provide for our resources.  We need to understand other's points of view.  We don't need to agree with those views, but we really do need to understand and recognize them as being legitimate.  We need to recognize the cause of the problems and seek solutions to those problems.  None of us will get everything we want.  We must work out the best solution that everyone can live with.  We must seek solutions together.  Everyone must be willing to look for solutions.  We must work as a community together and not be divided by outside interests, which was mentioned earlier.  I truly want to include the media in this.  You too are part of the community.  You must not continue to act in a divisive manner.  I really want to end by saying, I truly appreciate each and everyone of you who are here today.  You're here because you care.  You care about your community.  You care about our future together and our children's future, and together, truly we can make this work, and I think you.  Applause.

 

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Page Updated: Thursday May 26, 2011 03:18 AM  Pacific


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