Letter: Oregon’s Nine Tribes Call for Their Voices in Water Planning | Opinion
The following commentary summarizes a letter to Governor Kate Brown from the leaders of the nine federally recognized Indian tribes of Oregon. The letter was delivered on September 21.
We, the Nine Sovereign Tribes of Oregon, thank you for your leadership in recognizing that our great state needs a vision of water with a vision of at least 100 years. We are all dedicated to improving this beautiful place we now call Oregon.
We have come together as the tribes of Oregon to share and discuss our beliefs, concerns and needs for an Oregon Water Vision. Each of us is a separate and unique ruler, but we have all come to agreement on these issues.
Water is sacred. Water is life. Water is the heart of our culture. Our understanding of these truths is based on a legacy of survival and dependence on our oceans, rivers, and lakes in Oregon. Whether we plan for one year or for 100 years, any vision of water must, at its core, restore and protect cold, clean water.
As modern Oregonians, we haven’t done this well. It is time to take a step forward.
Our tribes and their fisheries lived together before Oregon existed. Our ancestors understood that they had to live in a balanced relationship with the oceans, rivers, streams, lakes, springs, marshes and the flora and fauna that depend on them. There was and there is no other way to survive. However, many modern Oregonians act as if there are no natural consequences or limitations to our water consumption, including groundwater.
Our people have seen the changes in our waters and lands caused by mismanagement. There is a very real threat of extinction for rainbow trout, salmon, lamprey, suckers and other species in our oceans, streams, rivers and lakes. We have known about these problems for a long time.
The extinction of these vital fisheries would amount to the genocide of our people and the end of our irreplaceable ways of life, for these resources are an integral part of our identity. The extinction of native fisheries is totally unacceptable to our nations. Whether intentional or not, we know our state is taking a dangerous path in several watersheds.
We have seen many planning processes come and go. If a plan fails to address these issues, it will fail to create acceptable solutions. The truth is, the state and tribes of Oregon know the biggest barriers to healthy oceans, rivers, and water. We’ve all known this for some time. What is missing is the will to change the way we do business. Our water and those who depend on it have paid the price.
As the Oregon Water Vision initiative progresses, and to ensure that our voices are heard clearly in whatever this process may involve, the tribes are asking for the following:
1. By Order in Council, establish a “Tribe-Agency Water Vision Working Group” to include representatives from the nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon and the nine state agencies identified in the Oregon Strategy. Oregon water resources. The objective of this group would be to fully coordinate the vision and objectives of a holistic water vision.
2. Collaborate with each of our tribes to develop specific recommendations for the water body. Each of our sovereign tribes may have unique and specific interests relating to water resources and / or hydraulic infrastructure in their ancestral areas.
All of the tribes in Oregon are eager and eager to get involved. Inclusion of Oregon’s tribal voice in its vision for water will ensure its global commitment to our collective needs for human and ecosystem resilience. The tribes of Oregon are hopeful that your office can ask all relevant state agencies to reciprocate.
The nine sovereign tribes of Oregon