P R E S S R E L E A S E
Karuk Tribe • Klamath Tribes • Yurok Tribe
For Immediate Release: May 25, 2017
For More Information:
Matt Mais, Yurok Public Relations, (707) 954-0976, firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Tucker, Natural Resources Policy Advocate, (916) 207-8294, email@example.com
Taylor Tupper, Klamath Tribes News Manager, (541) 891-3686, firstname.lastname@example.org
Annelia Hillman, Youth Mentor, (707) 499-6061
Margo Robins, Youth Mentor (707) 502-8654
Crispin McAllister, Youth Mentor, (707) 598-9370, email@example.com
Don Gentry, Chairman. Klamath Tribes, (541) 892-1433, firstname.lastname@example.org
TRIBES CELEBRATE HOLIDAY WEEKEND WITH 300 MILE RELAY RUN FOR
Tribal Youth Highlight Support for Dam Removal, Opposition to LNG Pipeline
Editor’s Note – Klamath Wildlife Refuge Miller Island Unit, the proposed Klamath River crossing of the Jordon Cove Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline (directions). Runners will then continue to Klamath Tribes Memorial Day Pow-wow at the Klamath County (Oregon) Fair Grounds at noon.
Klamath Falls, OR – This year, the 15th Annual Salmon Relay run begins on Friday, May 26 at the mouth of the Klamath River, and ends on Sunday, May 28 at the Klamath Tribes’ Annual Memorial Day Weekend Pow-wow at the Klamath County Fairgrounds. Over 200 participants will participate in the 300 miles relay to highlight the plight of Klamath fisheries, support solutions, and oppose future threats to the Klamath and Trinity Rivers.
The run begins in Yurok country at the mouth of the Klamath River. Yurok tribal members will have no commercial fisheries this year due to the devastatingly low salmon counts. Ceremonial and subsistence use will be at a bare minimum.
The Karuk have also been hard hit by the impact of poor water quality and fish die off.
“This is the worst year for salmon in our history,” said Karuk Tribal member Crispin McAllister. “We will limit ourselves to only 250 fish to serve at ceremonies. This is a traumatic loss to our culture and our families’ access to a healthy traditional food.” McAlister is an ultra- marathoner and a veteran of the US Navy, having served a combat tour in Iraq attached to a Marine regiment. “For me, Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to do this because my community and my way of life was exactly what I was defending as a member of the U.S. military.”
Unfortunately, the loss of salmon is a situation is all too familiar for the Klamath Tribes of Oregon. Klamath Tribes’ Chairman, Don Gentry, whose homelands are above the Klamath Dams, explains, “We have not had salmon here for over 100 years, this led us to rely more on the resident c’wam, or sucker, which also faces extinction because of a century of poor water management. Nowadays, we get to harvest one c’wam a year for ceremonial purposes.”
Despite the dismal returns this year, runners are celebrating PacifiCorp’s recent application to surrender the lower four Klamath dams for removal in 2020. The proposal is currently under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A 2012 environmental report concluded that dam removal is safe, affordable, and would greatly improve fisheries and water quality.
At the same time, however, other threats to fish and water quality are emerging. The recently proposed Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas pipeline would cross beneath the Klamath River near Klamath Falls if approved. According to Yurok Tribal member Annelia Hillman, “We are working so hard to restore our river, we cannot let the progress we are making on dam removal be diminished by yet another destructive energy project.”
The Klamath Tribes have voiced opposition to the Jordan Cove Pipeline project as well. Last year the Klamath Tribe wrote FERC stating, “The route of the LNG pipeline that we have examined shows it going through areas where villages once existed and it may unearth human remains since graves with human remains have been found in these areas. The route also would go under the Klamath River and the Rogue River which, since time immemorial, have been and continue to be important sources of fish for Tribal members.”
The Salmon Run was started in 2003 by four Hoopa High School Students, Erica Chase, Kayla Carpenter, Tosha Norton and Chelsea Reed in response to the fish kill on the lower Klamath River that left over 60,000 adult salmon dead the fall of 2002.
Runners at the mouth of the Klamath River near the Oregon border get up at sunrise to dip two carved wooden salmon into the estuary of the Klamath, and begin the arduous run. After running the first seven miles, they pass the wooden salmon off to the Yurok Tribal Fisheries who transport the fish up the river in a boat. Runners meet them at the traditional village of Wautec and carry the fish to Weitchpec, where the Klamath and Trinity rivers meet. At that point they split into two groups, taking one fish up the Trinity River along highway 299, and the other up the Klamath River along highway 96. Native and non-Native runners of all ages, and from all walks of life, participate in the run.
At the end of the run, the Klamath Tribes’ Youth Leadership Council will welcome runners to their annual Memorial Day Weekend Pow-wow at the Klamath County fairgrounds. According to a statement from the Council, “Our People have a long and proud tradition of running and we still hold races all the way around Upper Klamath Lake. The health of the People and and the health of the lands and waters are all connected. I think this effort helps us communicate that to everyone.”
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More information on Klamath dam removal: Klamath River Renewal Corporation
- Craig Tucker, Ph.D.
Natural Resources Policy Advocate
Follow me on twitter @scraigtucker