Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Final Klamath Deals may be released this week – Klamath Tribes embroiled in conflict.

Remaining members of the Klamath Settlement Group are meeting in Sacramento this week. The group hopes to finalize drafting of the Water and Dam Deals it has been working on for the last couple of years and to release these documents for public review. The latest schedule released by the group calls for parties to sign the combined deals in mid-February. However, this group has missed deadlines many times before and these new deadlines may slip as well.

Much in these deals can be implemented immediately; some provisions are, in fact, already being implemented. But the more controversial provisions – including mandating a first call on water to irrigators, golf courses, lumber mills and other water users within the federal Klamath Project – are illegal under current law and therefore can only be accomplished via federal legislation. Other provisions – like granting Klamath Project Irrigators the right to “take” Bald eagles, Kuptu, Tsuam and other California “fully protected species” – are illegal under state law and thus require state legislation.

In a recent electronic town hall meeting, Congressman Mike Thompson indicated that he would carry legislation with an unidentified “Oregon congressman” to implement the Klamath Settlement Group’s Dam and Water Deals (see KlamBlog’s December 14th post). The newly formed Klamath Conservation Partners coalition, however, wants Mr. Thompson to consider all proposals – including the so-called “clean dam bill” approach – before drafting Klamath legislation.

Others have questioned the wisdom of making a special funding allocation for Klamath River Basin salmon restoration as proposed in the deals. In recent decades salmon restoration funding has been appropriated on a regional basis. A return to basin-by-basin salmon restoration funding could set off a political fight among restorationists from different basins over restoration funding. About 1/3rd of the nearly $1 billion taxpayer dollars called for in the Water Deal would be allocated to restoration; the remainder is subsidies to irrigators, tribes and counties. With record budget deficits expected again in 2010, the high cost of the deals could be an impediment to passing legislation to implement them.

Meanwhile, there is a major conflict within one of the tribes which has promoted the deals. At a November general council meeting, about 50 members of the Klamath Tribes voted to remove all but one member of the current tribal council. The following Monday a group of members tried to remove these folks physically from tribal offices in Chiloquin, Oregon. However, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which oversees tribal government operations, has written a letter indicating that the removal action was illegal because proper procedures were not followed. There is another General Council meeting on January 9th at which dissidents may again try to remove Council members.

It is not known whether the conflict has anything to do with the proposed Water and Dam Deals or how a change in the tribal council make-up could impact the Tribe’s position on the deals. Comments on Chiloquin web sites indicate that the conflict is more about services, management of the Tribe’s casino and the manner in which payments are made to tribal members.

In tribal governments with the general council system all major actions of the tribe must be approved by a council in which all adult members have a vote. Among Klamath River Basin federally recognized tribes the Quartz Valley Indian Reservation also uses a general council system. The Karuk, Hoopa and Yurok Tribes operate on a system where the vote of representatives elected to a tribal council can make final decisions without the vote of the membership. Another Klamath River Basin native group - the Shasta Nation - is not federally recognized.

In other tribal news, traditional Yurok-Karuk ceremonial leader Chris Peters has requested an audience with the Yurok Tribal Council to discuss “significant and far reaching cultural and spiritual issues” associated with the Dam and Water Deals. A date for that audience has not been set.

1 comment:

kingtutty said...

The removal of the Klamath Tribal Council does involve the KBRA agreement. There are many alleged reasons that were included in the petitions for their removal. This Tribal Council which members are also representatives of the KBRA agreement have created a Conflict of Interest by including an Economic Self Sufficiency Plan which includes th Mazama Tree Farm,a mill site that needs comprehensive restoration and the Aurora Project which includes purchasing a 385 acre piece of property near Wilsonville after 2 - 25 year leases, in which Tribal Sovereignty will be tested to the limits, because the owners want a 75%/25% interest for any profits of business placed on the site. The owners of course will receive the 75% and the cloak of the tribes sovereignty to bypass existing zoning laws. The Mazama tree farm will cost 29 million, legislation will only help with 21 million if legislation is passed. Just these 3 are of the many allegations for removal that were not approved by the General Council,the Klamath People by vote. The Mazama tree farm is being purchased by a lease with an option to buy with Klamath Tribal members unsure how the lease was purchased and where the money came from. Putting the cart before the horse? The Crater Lake Mill was also purchased without the permission of the General Council by vote and details of the purchase are not known by Klamath Tribal members. The Auroral Project is being pursued under the veil of silence and with the present conflict for power the Tribal Council continues to maintain no transparency and accountability. Would you trust this Tribal Government, but most of all have them represent the interests of your tribe while your treaty rights are being compromised? In the case of the Klamath Tribe, Tribal Government and any business should be separate. The Tribe does not stand to benefit as a whole but for a few, with millions in debt, following legislation. Many Klamath Tibal members do not understand this.The Klamath Tribes representatives of the KBRA work for or are aligned in the positions that will benefit them if the legislation is passed. These are the Natural Resources and Forest departments of the tribe. There will be minimal jobs available to tribal members. You have seen how State and private sector jobs have suffered.
The Water rights of the Klamath Tribe will be compromised otherwise why would there be a relinquishment of claims against the government? The new agreement even changes waiver of claims to relinquishment of claims because information coming out against these waivers. Changing words not meanings reformed the agreement??? If any Treaty right was not going to be compromised why would the Tribes even need to be at the negotiating table. The Klamath Tribes ultimately if this legislation passes with the present agreement will have a Treaty Right only in words. This will be just another sad event to occur in the history of the Klamath, Modoc, Yahooskin tribe.
While the Tribal Council touts the agreement as the greatest event since Restoration and would be miraculous for the Tribe I pray the truth be known in time!!!
If the Klamath Tribes' Constitution is allowed to rule, they will be removed.