Interior department opens talks with Klamath Tribes
March 21, 2002 11:42 PM   Subscribe

Interior department opens talks with Klamath Tribes that could lead to the return of 690,000 acres. Once the richest and most self sufficient tribe with land holdings of over 22 million acres, the Tribes fell victim to various land grabs over the years, the last being in 1954 when tribal status was terminated and they were (eventually) paid $220 million for 1.2 million acres of timber. By 1963, 28 percent of the tribe had died by age 25, 52 percent by age 40. Of those deaths, 40 percent were alcohol related. This is also about timber and water, but mostly it's an opportunity to do the right thing. Can the Bush administration and Congress do the right thing?
posted by Mack Twain (4 comments total)
It sounds like this would be a good thing all around, so I don't see why the U.S. shouldn't do it. While it is easy to argue that returning the lands is just a fraction of the "right thing" they should do, I think a need for justice for the Klamath Tribes on the one hand has to be balanced with an acceptance that what is done, is done -- meaning that we all have to live in today's world, and it ought to be a better place for everyone, not just for those who have been wronged in the past.

But I digress...
posted by Bixby23 at 2:52 AM on March 22, 2002

One has to say that the Bush administration's position on tribal rights as an aspect of property rights is an interesting new wrinkle. Even if it is in large part a politically necessary 'third way' out of the neck-wringing mess that the Klamath water fight has become, it's completely in line with the Wise Use types -- who'd prefer to have the Indians on their side in this fight. And it would tend to divide the opposition between those preferring to support the Indians and those preferring to support the maintenance of every last tree of national forest. The coup de grâce is that the onus has been on the government -- but whether or not this deal goes through, the future onus will be on the Klamath tribe. Pretty slick, if you ask me.
posted by dhartung at 5:54 AM on March 22, 2002

I lived near Chiloquin, OR for a time during the mid 70's. It was a prevalent lifestyle at the time for a Native American with that tribal money to buy a new pickup, get drunk and smash it into a tree, and then go buy another one. The teenage boys used to sit on a hill above town and shoot out a clock that was inside one of the banks there.

Ed Chiloquin was the town drunk until he met Leatha, who was from a Plains tribe (I forget which) and she sobered him up and encouraged him to take a leadership role in the tribe.

They established a village an what was the worst road I've ever driven, and began to take up some of the old ways from the various tribes (including teepees, which were never used in the northwest but since Leatha was a Plains person, it made some sense).

I am glad they they are getting the land back and have no insights on the current water troubles in that I have not been down there in years.
posted by Danf at 8:09 AM on March 22, 2002

dhartung, you hit the nail right on the head. This would seem to be the biggest win-win-win for the Federal government since we bought Alaska. Put 3/4 million acres of timber beyond the reach of the environmental lawsuits, thus restoring jobs and industry; let the Tribes manage the water, thus putting fish and critters before farming in the desert; Pure pragmatisim, but still an opportunity to right a wrong. Beautiful...NativeWeb News Digest is a site that links to current Native issues in the news.
posted by Mack Twain at 10:45 AM on March 22, 2002

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