Research Station Documentary
Our goal here at the research station is to halt the decline of the C’waam and Koptu and assist in their recovery back to harvestable levels to the tribe.
C’waam (pronounced CH’waam) Koptu (pronounced Kop-too) C’waam, also known as Lost River suckers, can weigh over 10 pounds, reach three feet long, and live for up to 50 years. Koptu, or Shortnose suckers, are smaller, usually about 18 inches long, and live for more than 30 years.
Don was born in 1955 in Klamath Falls, Oregon where he currently lives with this wife of 46 years, Mary. He spent most of his life in the Chiloquin-Klamath Falls, Oregon area, located within the aboriginal territory the Klamath Tribes (Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin Paiute people). He has gained a deep knowledge of his homeland through lifetime exercise of his Klamath Treaty Rights to hunt, fish and gather on the former Klamath Indian Reservation, his experience working for the Fremont-Winema National Forest in fire suppression, and his 25 years’ service in the Klamath Tribes Natural Resources Department where he last served as the Klamath Tribes Natural Resource Specialist, prior to becoming an elected official of the Klamath Tribes.
Alex says, “I graduated from OSU in 2000 with a degree in fisheries science and went on to complete post-baccalaureate work at Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire. Early in my career I worked for a consulting firm at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, the Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Plant during its decommissioning, the Connecticut River Hydroelectric Project, and other project locations. My experience also includes college and graduate-level teaching online and work for the wood products industry in Oregon. For the last 5 years, I have been the senior fish biologist for the Klamath Tribes, a grouping of three tribes that occupy the Upper Klamath Basin in Oregon. My current work is very much an amalgam of biology, environmental science, politics, resource scarcity, and socioeconomic tension and is arguably the most contentious environmental issue in Oregon. I also served in the Oregon Army National Guard as an infantry solider.”
Water Rights Specialist for The Klamath Tribes. 14+ years of experience in water management, fisheries, and watershed restoration combined. Received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Natural Resource Science with honors from Heritage University. I regularly utilize natural resources via subsistence activities such as hunting and fishing. Genuinely enjoy my position working for The Klamath Tribes in protection and enhancement of treaty resources.
Meet, Siletz/Klamath native and film participant, Faryn Case. She’s a life-long resident and graduate of Oregon Institute of Technology with a degree in Environmental Science. She is currently a Biologist for the Klamath tribes research station. I’ve worked for the Tribes for almost three years. “ I enjoy being a part of the restoration of a species and look forward to seeing the big changes yet to come.”
Perry Chocktoot is a member of all three of the Klamath Tribes: (Klamath, Modoc, and Yahooskin Paiute). He was raised in the traditional lands of the Klamath Tribes and the history of his family is found throughout the area. The town of Chiloquin has street names like Chocktoot Street, and the main street in Chiloquin, which Perry says, “is named after my two great grandpa’s that signed the Treaty of 1864.” He is the director of the Culture and Heritage Department. He is a former Tribal Council member, and former Chairman of the Intertribal Fish and Water Commission. Currently, he sits on the Oregon Governor’s Task-force for Cultural Resource Identification. He also conducts the Annual C’waam Ceremony of the Klamath Tribes every year in March. As a lifelong fisherman, he helps out anyway he can on restoration of the C’waam fishery and supports stream restoration to aid in their recovery.
A cultural expert, Chocktoot is an avid fisherman, cook, a lifelong hunter, obsidian knife maker, and is actively involved in reinvigorating the tradition of making and using tule duck decoys. Chocktoot’s parents, grandparents and Elders raised him to be self-sufficient, to live off of the land and waterways. He grew up learning to fish for salmon, steelhead, c’waam, red band trout; hunt deer, ducks, and geese; cook or smoke his catch; and share his bounty with others. “That’s a tradition passed on . . . When I married and I had children of my own, I taught my family to smoke fish, can fish and how to harvest, so I’m not sending them into the world having a lack of knowledge to fend for themselves. If need be my boys and my daughter could make an earth lodge, fish and dry it, hunt and dry it. They can smoke trout, salmon, steelhead, deer meat, or elk meat, and survive. I’ve given them the tools.”
Observing the year’s round of food gathering is critical to survival. Chocktoot explains, “You know, we function on that seasonal round gathering. In the Spring (May and June) we do root digging [apos, camus, biscuit root]. And in the spring, it’s fishing. Then in summer, it’s meat drying time and continue fishing. . . . the huckleberries are just coming in then. . . . Then in the fall, the meat is in its prime. During the fall, deer and elk hunting occur as well as berry picking. Then all of it comes to a screeching halt when there’s four foot of snow on the ground. Then it’s time to eat what you harvest.”
Standing here at his ranch along the Sprague River, he is dedicated to trying to keep the pollution to a minimum in the river system by utilizing Water Gaps on his property. He designed this Water Gap to keep the cattle off of the river banks and to minimize their pollution into the water system.
Jerry says, “I had to come to the realization that cattle ranching is part of my heritage too. I’m proud to be a Tribal member and I’m proud of the work I do here on my ranch in the Sprague River Valley. This river joins the Williamson and then Upper Klamath Lake, it’s my hope I’m doing my part to help our fish with these Water Gaps.”
He adds, “The first Water Gap I ever built was when I was a teenager and today I might be the only one with two along the Sprague River or this valley?” He adds, “They are fairly inexpensive and the way I build ‘em the water flow will come into the Gap even when the river is low, this design allows the cattle to drink without traveling out into the river system. I think everyone should build one of these along any waterway, it’s not hard, it’s just good logic and common sense.”