Upholding Sovereignty and 1864 Klamath Tribal Treaty Rights

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Rumor Control regarding Misinformation by the Hoopa Tribe

Information by Kathy Hill, Tribal Council and Klamath Tribes Negotiation Team Member

Article Endorsed by Klamath Tribal Council

 

This is somewhat difficult for me to write, but I feel compelled to do so because of the misinformation being tossed about – specifically the allegations that the Klamath Tribes bear responsibility for fish dying downriver, and that the Hoopa Valley Tribe is somehow stronger than the Klamath Tribes because they are allegedly “unwilling to settle.”

 

Regarding Hoopa’s unwillingness to settle:

 

The Hoopa Valley Tribe settled on the quantity of water delivered to the Trinity River over a decade ago when it agreed to the U.S. Department of Interior Record of Decision for the Trinity River Mainstem Fishery Restoration. http://odp.trrp.net/FileDatabase/Documents/Trinity%20River%20Record%20of%20Decision%2012-19-00.pdf

 

On December 19, 2000, Bruce Babbit (then Secretary of the Interior) and the Hoopa Tribal Chair signed the agreement. According to the agreement, the Chair “By Tribal Resolution #00-94 dated December 18, 2000… formally concurred in and agreed with the underlying recommendation and this decision.” This language and their signatures are shown on page 26 of the Record of Decision (ROD).

 

As noted on page 1 of the ROD, the Central Valley Project’s Trinity River Division (TRD) began diverting up to 90% of the Trinity River in the early 1960’s, and “eliminated 109 miles of important salmonid habitat above Lewiston, California.”

 

According to information on page 20 of the ROD, the average amount of Trinity River water diverted for the TRD was 74%. In fact, the ROD signed by the Hoopa Valley Chair and Secretary Babbit provided that there would be “continued export to the Central Valley of a majority of the waters flowing in the TRD (averaging 52%)… [which] conforms to the legal and trust mandates for the restoration and protection of the Trinity fishery….”

 

The Hoopa Valley Tribe agreed to allow 52% of the Trinity River to be diverted to the Central Valley [Irrigation] Project.  According to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fact Sheet, the federal government subsequently provided funds for the Trinity River Restoration Program in the amounts of $6 million from the Bureau of Reclamation and $2 million from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  It is unclear how much of that funding went directly to the Hoopa Valley Tribe.

(http://www.fws.gov/arcata/fisheries/reports/factsheets/FACT%20SHEET%20Trinity%20Rest%20Prog.pdf)

 

Hoopa also sued the United States over the 2002 Fish Kill. When it became clear that their litigation would fail, Hoopa settled the suit for $2 million.

 

Do I blame the Hoopa Valley Tribe for agreeing to the ROD and settling on the Fish Kill? No. I have no doubt that Hoopa’s leadership did the best that they felt they could do at the time.

 

On the other hand, I find it illogical that anyone could allege that the Hoopa Valley Tribe fights/fought harder for their resources than the Klamath Tribes have. We have had many victories in court – but legal victories alone will not restore our tribal resources.

 

Our tribal members have been deprived of salmon and steelhead for a century now, and some of our other fisheries are already on the Endangered Species list.  We will not betray our ancestors or future generations by simply giving up on our Treaty right to have salmon and steelhead in the Upper Klamath Basin and restore our endangered fisheries. We will not stand by and allow the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council to squeeze more water out of Klamath Lake and the Upper Klamath Basin.

 

~ Kathy Hill

Klamath Tribal Council Member

*Article Endorsed by the Klamath Tribes of Oregon Tribal Council