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Questions swim around Tribes' fish claims
Published May 14, 2004
A $1 billion lawsuit filed against PacifiCorp by
Native Americans left lingering questions in the
Klamath Basin this week.
And who could be next to have a claim filed
But the Chiloquin-based Tribes have made no
announcement about the suit, and reports have
circulated that the tribal government does not
support the claim.
Other plaintiffs in the suit include tribal
members Miller Anderson, Joseph Hobbs, Catherine
Wiser-Gonzalez, Robert Anderson, Joseph Kirk, Orin
Kirk, Leonard Norris Jr., Philip Tupper, Robert
Bojorcas , as well as the Klamath Claims
Committee, of which they are members.
Bojorcas said the Claims Committee can speak for
Dan Israel, the Denver-based lawyer who filed the
claims, said the "Klamath Tribes of Oregon"
represents the Klamath Tribes government.
The claims committee has a litigation fund with
which to pursue claims. Members of the committee
would not say how much they have in their coffers.
n Find that PacifiCorp and its predecessor, the
California Oregon Power Company, knowingly and
recklessly destroyed the plaintiffs' federal
treaty rights to consume, barter and maintain a
way of life that relied on salmon.
PacifiCorp spokesman Jon Coney said the company
doesn't comment on litigation.
Israel said those who developed the power dams on
the Klamath River knew they cut off salmon from
the Klamath Basin, but put the dams in anyway.
Before the dams went in, the Klamath River was the
third-leading producer of anadromous fish, behind
the Columbia and the Sacramento, said Roger Smith,
a fisheries biologist with the Oregon Department
of Fish and Wildlife.
The claims are to make up for the past and return
salmon to the Basin in the future, Bojorcas said.
The claims against PacifiCorp have left many
groups in the Basin - from irrigation districts to
water user groups and the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation - wondering if they are next.
As part of PacifiCorp's dam relicensing process
with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,
Israel filed requests for more studies by the
power company on the behalf of the Klamath Tribes.
The request continued, "... the Tribes are
preparing significant damage claims against those
entities which have contributed to the destruction
of the fishery."
Israel said irrigators need to install more
efficient systems, but the Tribes' want to work
with them to get that done.
Bojorcas said the committee supports the Tribes government, and has filed the claims for the good of the tribes, not for the individual gain of committee members.
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