The aesthetic, Apple Wallpaper-esque, scenery of the Klamath River is meant to evoke your sentimental side before we get into the more logos part of this article. If you haven’t already, really digest and imagine the presence before your eyes if you were an audience member of this stunning and inclusive exhibition granted to us by the Klamath River.
Hopefully, this work of art inspires amazement or admiration as it had done so for me.
This increase in competition has become a driving factor in the ecological changes that have occurred, especially in recent decades, including physical impacts such as groundwater depletion and soil salinization.
The Federal Government’s priority, as we all know, is capital gains. The Federal Government has allowed other capital corporations and entities to gain from this seizure of Indigenous land, such as PacifiCorp, whose parent company is the famously immoral Berkshire Hathaway company, which is owned by Warren Buffett.
Even more of a tough reality to accept is today’s standards for dams include fish ladders that allow native fish to still be able to cross over these dams. But, this extremely low standard for dam owners to include fish ladders, which is already heavily contested by scientists and ecologists as being safe or not for the fish, is still too high of a standard for PacifiCorp.
This allowed treatment of our natural resources by the Federal Government may shock some of you, or some of you may find this unsurprising. No matter the emotional response, we don’t have to accept this behavior from our changeable government, and many aren’t.
We can evolve our Federal Government to a higher standard of customs and value towards our shared land, and utilization of Indigenous history is a key first step.
Indigenous Communities: The Distressed
Those who are Indigenous to the Klamath Watershed view their relationship with the river as an “eternal” one, but after the arrival of these dams via government intervention, this traditional way of life has only been hindered for both these Indigenous tribes, and the river itself.
Despite the fact that there is limited information previous to American literature when looking into the socio-ecological history of health about the river, research suggests that the river was once at a much healthier state due to the known history of the Klamath Tribes’ diet consisting of a much more diverse array of fish species, as compared to today’s number of fish species that currently reside within the river.
Pre-dam conditions were integral to the Natives’ way of life on many levels. Cultural and spiritual considerations aside, water and other natural resources have evidently been undervalued and subsided by the Federal Government, oftentimes benefitting the American Klamath River farmers who, in the eyes of the government, create value in the U.S. economy.
Research on the Klamath River Basin has especially marked this piece of history of American population growth and farming around the basin as important in understanding how the Indigenous communities had been removed and isolated from their river. This population boom, of course, brought about different livelihoods and cultures to the area, including the government-incentivized sentiment to cultivate and capitalize on the river’s natural resources, creating a movement to commercially fish, which only brought about more competition.
This injustice and largely ignored piece of history is a problem, but those who are aware and passionate about this are inspiring others to use their power of voting and voicing a reaction.
For more than a decade, advocates have been campaigning for the restoration of Klamath River’s ecology to what it once was before government intervention. Along with this, advocates for the river’s restoration are in support of also rehabilitating the river’s surrounding Indigenous communities’ economy and overall culture, and step one in this process is removing the government-built dams from their river.
Us: The Protagonists
As we’ve established, the Federal Government is the reigning authority on the river’s future.
Supporters of the Klamath River restoration and its Indigenous communities understand this process and are now having to work with, or more accurately, around, the Federal Government’s final say on any chance for dam removal.
Those who are motivated to remove these destructive dams have created several programs and campaigns in hopes to raise awareness and let our government know that their treatment of the river can’t go without consequences.
This socio-ecological history of the Klamath River is important when it comes to understanding our natural world around us and how it came to be. Learning from histories such as this, allows us to better understand how much power stakeholders have in controlling nature to benefit themselves at the expense of both Indigenous Peoples and the ecological health of nature itself.
There is an incalculable comfort that is granted from knowing you are not alone in your burden, and movements such as this are so powerful and can spark momentum and a ripple effect across the nation, possibly the world, for any who were or are facing injustice from colonialism involving our planet’s Indigenous resources and communities.
We need political groups and parties such as this to inspire change, it’s how we grow and learn as a nation.
America was built by the people for the people, so it is especially important that we acknowledge those who were original residents to the land. As long as there is a central authority making decisions, there will always be inequalities, it’s a given externality of any government system. As a result, we naturally need passions such as this to eventually find our equilibrium as a society in hopes to create a more give-and-take relationship with our culture, our government and our planet. Once we find this balance, then can we all shift our focus to real societal progress without the burden of any negative externalities or unjustified histories along the way.
What do you think about the Klamath dam or dams in general? Are we able to do more to rectify this and similar environmental histories? We would love to know your thoughts, comment in the section below.
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