Dams and People

There was a story in the New York Times yesterday about the flooding of the village of Hasankeyf in Southeast Turkey.Some say the village is 12,000 years old, and certainly it and the surrounding area have stories of ancient civilizations that are part of a historical thread that goes back to the “Garden of Eden.” Hasankeyf is on the Tigris River, which, along with the Euphrates, framed the Fertile Crescent, land where we think the domestication of wheat and animals took place millennia ago, land the holy books and their followers say was home to Adam and Eve. Read The Article

Coho return to the Lostine River!

I got this “FYI” from Jim Harbeck at Nez Perce Fisheries here in Joseph last night:

“The first Coho Salmon to return to the Lostine River in over 40 years came back home this morning…  I think we’ll see at least a few hundred Coho this fall at our weir on the Lostine. And more importantly, once again the Nez Perce Tribe is proving to be a good steward here in Wallowa County. This fish returned to a reach of river just below old Chief Joseph’s original burial site. I’m sure he’d be proud of his people for this significant accomplishment (and Ken Witty would be too).”

Ken Witty was a long-time fish biologist for the State of Oregon, and did some consulting with the tribe after his retirement.

It’s a long story. 1855 Treaty; Fish Wars of the 70s (which Alvin Josephy wrote about); Boldt Decision awarding half the salmon catch to the tribes; Nez Perce, Confederated Tribes of Read The Article

Civil Rights, Treaty Rights

Alvin Josephy told me once that liberals just didn’t get it with Indians.  In the sixties, after legislative victories on voting and discrimination issues, some liberals, according to Alvin, were ready to “move on to Indians.” But when they took their good intentions into Indian country, they were told that Indians weren’t so concerned with Civil Rights; Indians were interested in Treaty Rights.

I think the story tells us something about the confusing and sporadic nature of liberal support for Indian issues. We don’t really get this stuff about treaties. Look at Standing Rock, which was a great liberal rallying cry only months ago, but is now on the back burner again—do you remember seeing anything recently in the New York Times or other bastions of the liberal establishment press about the situation in the Dakotas? Indians are still there. The pipeline is under the river, and there are, I believe, cases pending. But a quick Google search of Standing Read The Article

Resilience

The election and the first days of a new and controversial Presidency have captured the news and national attention. For the most part, Standing Rock has slipped to back pages and Indian media websites, even as President Trump tweets and signs executive orders demanding a speedy resumption of pipeline building. The sheer number of tweets and executive orders helps obscure this news.

Life–1973

Water problems on one reservation and a lawsuit over education on another creep into the news, but, for the most part, Indians and tribal concerns are background noise once again, caught occasionally by a local press, or by an environmental media newly awakened to Indian allies, covered regularly only in Native news outlets.

But, I would argue, now is exactly the time we should be looking at and to tribes for guidance in dealing with current social, environmental, and political issues: Indians have the kind of history and standing that might instruct us now—while reminding us of Read The Article

Listening to Indians

I’ve been voting for 50 years—Johnson was my first Presidential pick in 1964. And yes, I’ve learned much about that strong-arming, deal-making, womanizing, self-agrandizing, Vietnam-failing President over the years. He had all of those negative qualities and more, and he wasn’t the first or last president to use questionable tactics or to cash in on the exalted position for personal satisfaction.

But Lyndon Johnson used strength and guile, twisted arms, shamed, compromised, made deals with the NAACP and other Civil Rights leaders, House members and Senators from both parties, to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He did so knowing that Democrats would lose the South for the foreseeable future, hoping that it would mark his legacy for sure, but knowing also that it was the right thing to do (his own gut thoughts about civil rights went back to pre-political school-teaching days):
“On June 19, exactly one year after President Kennedy’s proposal, the compromise bill passed the Senate
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