Restoration Cancellation Update/News:
Update provided by: Herald and News July 21, 2020
The Klamath Tribal Council announced yesterday that the 34th annual Klamath Tribes Restoration Celebration will be canceled. The gathering was deemed unsafe due to rising COVID-19 cases, according to a news release.
Tribal chairman Don Gentry said this is the first time the in-person celebration has been canceled. The events, which commemorate the Klamath Tribes’ federal recognition status being reinstated by the federal government in 1986, typically draw community members to Klamath from throughout the region. Gentry said that’s one of the special things about the celebration, but a pandemic makes it a double-edged sword.
“We’re really concerned about increasing the risk to our community here,” Gentry said, especially exposing elders to COVID-19. Knowing how disease outbreaks have devastated indigenous communities throughout history, he said the tribes needed to be “particularly careful.”
Congress terminated the Klamath Tribes from federal recognition in 1954, eliminating tribal services that were managed by the federal government and condemning the Tribes’ nearly 2 million-acre reservation. The government terminated more than 100 Native American tribes during the 1950s and 1960s, mostly to make their land bases and natural resources available to non-Native corporations.
The Klamath Tribes were one of the wealthiest tribes in the nation before termination, running successful timber and cattle industries that allowed them to fund federal and state services themselves. But in the decades that followed termination, much of that wealth disappeared and tribal members experienced a host of health and social problems without the adequate programs to fix them.
Restoration came after Klamath tribal members affirmed their treaty rights through series of court cases. The U.S. began reversing its termination decisions in the 1980s, and the Klamath Restoration Act of 1986 was the first step in a lengthy healing process that still continues today.
Gentry said the Restoration Celebration is a significant event, so the tribes will still try to celebrate it as safely as they can. The celebration, which is scheduled for August 21-23, will now include a virtual powwow coordinated by Lahoma Schonchin, according to the release.
“We’re still planning on what can be done and how we’re going to do it,” Gentry said.