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HomeIndigenous NewsThe Wrap: The journey of removing the Klamath Dams

The Wrap: The journey of removing the Klamath Dams

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The Klamath Tribes in southern Oregon have not seen salmon, much less been able to fish for them, for over a century now, ever since seven dams in the Klamath Basin were erected as part of PacifiCorp’s Klamath Hydroelectric Project. The dams, which were built between 1911 and 1962, reshaped the way the river flows, preventing fish passage and denying the Native nations access to an essential resource.

Now, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation project is overseeing the decommissioning of the four lower dams on the river. Copco No. 2 was fully removed in October 2023, and the process for draining the reservoirs above the other three dams — Copco No. 1, John C. Boyle and Iron Gate — was completed in February, with those remaining three dams scheduled for full removal in 2024.

“The tribes are very excited to see the salmon return after over 110 years of absence,” said Don Gentry, natural resource specialist and former chairman of the Klamath Tribes. Gentry dreams that one day, his grandson will be able to catch salmon and steelhead on the tribe’s own land once again.

Before the dams went up, salmon, steelhead and Pacific lamprey could easily navigate the entire length of the Klamath River, which flows over 260 miles from its headwaters in the Cascade Mountains of eastern Oregon to the Pacific Ocean in Northern California.

“There were thousands and thousands of pounds of fish — first foods — that our ancestors had every year that were lost almost overnight,” said Klamath Tribal Chairman Clayton Dumont. READ MORENika Barton-Smith, Underscore News and ICT


Ahniwake Rose, Cherokee Nation and Muscogee (Creek), continues her powerful contributions to Indian Country.

She has been hired as the new president and CEO for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium – known as AIHEC for short. The organization influences higher-education policy for the 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities throughout the nation.

Following in the footsteps of John Philips, interim president after 20 years in the organization, Rose offers a wealth of experience in Indian Country leadership roles and women-oriented initiatives.

The consortium hails Rose as “the collective spirit and unifying voice of Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs)” and “a transformational leader with abundant experience in Tribal policy, state, national, and Tribal mission-driven nonprofit organizations.” READ MORERenata Birkenbuel, ICT

Last September, Nicaraguan state security forces arrived at Indigenous Miskitu leader Brooklyn Rivera’s home in Bilwi, on the North Caribbean coast. Pretending to be health workers, officers allegedly handcuffed Rivera and beat him with batons before putting him in the back of an ambulance and driving away. More than six months later, Rivera’s family still doesn’t know where he is, or if he is alive.

Although Rivera had spent decades fighting for Miskitu autonomy and land rights, Carlos Hendy Thomas, another Miskitu leader, said that the recent targeting began with Rivera’s April 2023 trip to New York for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, or UNPFII, the world’s largest gathering of Indigenous leaders and activists, and a place for Indigenous peoples to bring attention to issues their communities face. Hendy Thomas said that before Rivera left for New York, government officials warned him not to speak out against the government. He did so anyway, and when Rivera tried to board a plane to return home, he was told that the Nicaraguan authorities had not approved his reentry. Instead, Rivera flew to Honduras and crossed the border back into Nicaragua to return to Bilwi.

A few days before his arrest, Hendy Thomas told Rivera he should leave the country for his own safety, but Rivera insisted his people needed him. That was the last time the two spoke. This year, Hendy Thomas came to the Permanent Forum to ask the United Nations to pressure Nicaragua for information. “We are hoping that by coming here, at least this would come to light, and the U.N. would intervene to get him out from jail, if he’s still in jail, or if he’s even alive,” Hendy Thomas said. READ MORE Grist 

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The Alaska Supreme Court overturned a 20-year-old precedent Friday by ruling that Alaska Native tribal organizations can more easily receive the kind of sovereign legal immunity that individual tribes have.

Friday’s 4-1 decision means the tribal consortiums that provide health care for tens of thousands of Alaskans — both Native and non-Native — are largely immune from civil lawsuits in state court, unless those consortiums waive their immunity.

Under the decision, immunity is now established by a five-part test already used by some federal courts. Previously, state judges used a simpler test that examines only whether a consortium is financially separated from its member tribes.

Friday’s case began in 2019 when a woman named Yvonne Ito said she was wrongly fired by the Copper River Native Association, and the association claimed immunity. READ MOREAlaska Beacon

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We want your tips, but we also want your feedback. What should we be covering that we’re not? What are we getting wrong? Please let us know. dalton@ictnews.org.

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