Summer is coming! This month’s issue of Water Watch features information on our upcoming Celebrate Water event, an article on our letter to Governor Inslee about restoring higher flow requirements on the Spokane River, a “Love Letter to a River” by CELP member Pat Sumption, and an introduction to CELP’s newest board member, Jill F. Johnson.
Check out our May edition of Washington Water Watch – we discuss the EPA’s new Clean Water Rule, a report released in January 2015 by Earth Economics about Outdoor Recreation in WA, and give updates on litigation and CELP in the News.
Thanks to our sponsors and all who attended, Celebrate Water was a huge success! Thanks to our CLE presenters, Jean Melious and Patrick Williams, for educating us on current Supreme Court cases concerning Water Rights, Land Use, and Instream Flows. We also heard presentations from Rachael Paschal Osborn about the Columbia River Treaty, and from Adam Wicks-Arshack about his organization, Voyages of Rediscovery, and their work facilitating educational expeditions on the Columbia River. They have published a video, Treaty Talks, about their expedition up the Columbia River from the sea to the source in Canada.
We had the pleasure of honoring the Upper Columbia United Tribes with the Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award in recognition of their efforts towards restoring salmon and the Columbia River. By honoring UCUT, this award also recognizes and honors all 15 Tribes and 17 First Nations of the Columbia Basin for their leadership towards these goals in the United States and Canada respectively.
Thank you to our many sponsors for their support, including: Bob Anderson & Marilyn Heiman, Columbia Institute for Water Policy, UW School of Law – Native American Law Center, Carnegie Group of Thurston County, South Sound Group Sierra Club, Voyages of Rediscovery, Family of Ralph Johnson, Adidas Outdoor, Northwest Swan Conservation Cooperative, Ted Knight, Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Shannon Work, Howard Funke, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Fran & Bunny Wood, and the League of Women Voters of Washington.
Here are more photos from the event – all photos are by Jon Anscher Photography.
Upper Columbia United Tribes to be honored for at Celebrate Water for their work to restore salmon to Upper Columbia River
15 Tribes and 17 First Nations press to modernize Columbia River Treaty; await decision from the U.S. State Department
On May 21 Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP) will honor Upper Columbia United Tribes (UCUT) with the Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award. Recognizing UCUT comes at an especially pivotal time in the history of our region: the U.S. State Department is poised to decide whether to negotiate with Canada over the future of the Columbia River. The honoring event will be held at Ivar’s Salmon House in Seattle as part of Celebrate Water! an annual event focusing on the future of water in Washington State, hosted by CELP.
The Upper Columbia United Tribes (UCUT) is being honored with the Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award for their work in restoring the Upper Columbia River region, including their central role in restoring salmon above Grand Coulee Dam. By honoring UCUT, this award also recognizes and honors all 15 tribes and 17 First Nations of the Columbia Basin for their leadership in restoring salmon and the Columbia River. (view map of the Columbia Basin’s 15 tribes, 17 First Nations, and fish barriers)
In December 2013 federal agencies recommended to the State Department that the United States include restoring the ecosystem as a primary purpose of an updated Columbia River Treaty, along with hydropower and flood control, a feature that will make the Treaty a model of international water management. All four Northwest states, 15 Columbia Basin tribes, fishermen and environmentalists support that recommendation.
In the Upper Columbia, dams have devastated fisheries and profoundly damaged tribes and indeed the entire region. The Upper Columbia United Tribes (UCUT) provides a common voice for the Upper Columbia River region through the collaboration of five major area tribes: the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. UCUT was formed to ensure a healthy future for the traditional territorial lands of Tribal ancestors and takes a proactive and collaborative approach to promoting Indian culture, fish, water, wildlife and habitat.
Celebrate Water! will be held at Ivar’s Salmon House in Seattle, WA on May 21, 2015 from 4:00-7:30pm. A one-credit Continuing Legal Education (CLE) workshop Water Rights, Land Use, Instream Flows: Current Supreme Court Cases will be held from 4:00-5:00pm. The Celebrate Water reception will take place from 5:30-7:30pm and will include the honoring of UCUT. Tickets are $50 (reception), $30 (CLE) and $70 (CLE and reception). More information is available at Celebrate Water!
About the Award
Ralph W. Johnson Award is given in honor of CELP’s founder, Professor Ralph W. Johnson. Professor Johnson co-founded CELP (along with Rachael Paschal Osborn), founded Indian Law, advocated for indigenous people and justice in the salmon wars, and whose jurisprudence was foundational to the Boldt decision. Past recipients of the award include the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and Billy Frank Jr., on behalf of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.
Click here to read our newest installment of the Washington Water Watch newsletter.
This month, you’ll find articles introducing our new Staff Attorney, Dan Von Seggern, discussing the drought declaration in the state, the status of the Enloe Dam Hydro Project, a summary of the recently released”Freshwater Withdrawals in WA, 2010″ report, and more.
Don’t miss our March edition of Washington Water Watch!
Click here to see the PDF version of our newsletter.
This month you’ll find articles about CELP’s recent victory in our Spokane River PCB challenge, the positive outcome of our Columbia River challenge, updates on other water issues and the Legislative session, an introduction to our new Development and Outreach Coordinator, and more.
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The five Tribes of UCUT are the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho.
Even while Canada and the United States continue to posture on modernizing the Columbia River Treaty, UCUT is moving forward with the first phase to return salmon home to ancestral spawning waters of the Upper Columbia. This is an historically important first step. The Tribes (and First Nations in Canada) need public support to bring the salmon home.
In 1942, 450 years after Columbus stepped foot in the Americas and less than 140 years after David Thompson and Lewis & Clark stepped foot into the Columbia River Basin, the gates at Grand Coulee dam in the U.S. closed with the tacit approval of the Canadian government. No passage was provided for the millions of salmon returning each year to the Upper Columbia, as key species for the environment. Tribes and First Nations were never consulted.
What were the consequences of those Columbia River dams — besides cheap power for communities like Seattle, flood control for Portland, and other benefits mostly for non-Indian people? For indigenous people, the salmon, and the river ecosystem, the consequences were devastating. With the closing of those gates at Grand Coulee dam, the waters began to rise. A whole way of life in those river valleys that had existed from “time immemorial” was drowned, permanently flooded.
Traumas move through generations. Suicide rates remain high on Indian reservations, especially among Indian youth. In recent months, both the Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Colvilles have declared suicide emergencies. Recognizing that mental health and ecosystem health are linked, and the importance of salmon to their cultures, all five Tribes are moving forward with returning salmon to the Upper Columbia. Their efforts in rebuilding the salmon runs of the Upper Columbia benefits all people – indigenous or nonindgenous – in the Columbia Basin, Puget Sound, and the West Coast.
As a region, we have never confronted what happened here to these people as a result of the dam-building era. As Bishop Skylstad so eloquently spoke at the Gonzaga University conference last May on Ethics & the Treaty: Righting Historic Wrongs,
“Have we, as a dominant culture — and sometimes a domineering culture — said to our native peoples, ‘Will you forgive us?’ Have we done that? I don’t think we have.”
On May 21 at Ivar’s Salmon House in Seattle, we will be honoring UCUT (and through them, the indigenous people of the Upper Columbia) for their leadership in restoring salmon and the river. CELP is also working with UCUT to promote a new film, Treaty Talks that helps tell the story.
– Spokesman Review, Upper Columbia Tribes seek to restore river’s salmon runs