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Klamath Tribes Reject Latest Damages Compensation Offer for Swan Lake Hydro Project

CHILOQUIN, Ore.  – At a tense Sept. 30 Special General Council Meeting with representatives of the Copenhagen Investment Partnership (CIP), the Klamath Tribes voted overwhelmingly (77 to 8 with 8 abstentions) to reject CIP’s latest offer to compensate the Tribes for the destruction of one of their most sacred sites, damage will result from CIP’s soon to be built Swan Lake Rim Hydropower Project. The company’s latest offer was worth more than $40 million and included $22 million for land acquisition, $10 million for a tribal museum, $5 million for a sober living facility, $2 million for education, and promises to employ tribal members in union wage jobs. A much less lucrative offer was rejected months ago by a much narrower margin (30-29 with 4 abstentions).

The Klamath Tribes have actively and aggressively opposed the project since they first learned about it in 2011. In a 2016 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee then then-Chairman Don Gentry stated, “The Klamath Tribes firmly oppose the licensing and construction of the Hydro Project at this location because it would destroy and adversely affect many cultural and sacred resources in the Swan Lake Rim area that continue to have a great spiritual value to members of the Tribes.” 

As recently as Jan. 31, 2020, current Chairman Clayton Dumont submitted a letter to company representatives stating that the company “is about to blow a gaping canyon into the center of a massive Klamath/Modoc cathedral…Imagine that the Klamath Tribes somehow felt the need to disembowel an equivalent location, e.g., Vatican City. How would Catholics react if we came to them with a ‘Management Plan’ that claimed to ‘minimize and mitigate potential effects?’”

Chairman Dumont and other Tribal Council Members had been attempting to send the latest offer to all 4,611 tribal members eligible for a Referendum Vote. The actions taken at this meeting will stop that from happening. Indeed, part of the motion that was passed stated, “We stipulate that there will be no future votes.”