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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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N0 to Tribe's land acquisition and Root group

Edward Bartell, Buddy Reno and Judy Criswell board members

Crowd in Fort Klamath of over 100 worried U.S. citizens

1/20/04, notes taken from videotape by KBC (jdk)

In a relatively unpublicized meeting, over 100 people came from all directions to the Basin Alliance meeting in Fort Klamath.  No one present wanted their public forest land to be given to the tribes, again. And they don't want 'The Root Group' destroying their cattle industry--their local economy-- by buying Upper Basin water.

As I left the meeting, the line kept running through my head, "ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL." As in other recent gatherings, the question comes up, 'why can't we all be equal? Why can they get paid for selling the same land twice, then be given it again...we can't do that with our property?  Why do they want to be their own nation? Why can't we all be one?

I will list many of the questions, answers, statements and comments:

Board member: The tribes have claimed more water than exists on average years.  All of our information came out of files from the National Archives.

Board member, "I represent 10,000 people.  We don't want our hunting rights taken away.

Board member, "I got involved because I don't feel like anybody is representing me to Root (an owner of Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust-KBRT, who has been, and plans to rent ranchers' water with government funds, and who is at the table in private meetings with the Tribes, Hatfield Committee, The Nature Conservancy, Klamath Water Users, Water for Life member, some Upper Basin irrigators, and Bill Bettenberg of the Department of the Interior.)

Q Are there other tribes all over the country trying to get their reservations back?

A. Yes. The Native American Resource Fund has a 7 million dollar budget. This is happening all over the U.S. Some of their claims include people's private well water. The tribe's constitution claims groundwater.

The group talked extensively about how they could get representation by their elected officials.

Q. Why don't they make channels to deepen the lakes? And why are they flooding so many areas?

Board Member, "The water bank being mandated by the National Marine Fisheries and Bureau of Reclamation calls for 75,000 acre feet of our irrigation water this year. The Root group will exterminate 70% of our cattle industry.

Q "Why don't we abolish the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) and make everyone equal?"

Q "What about dredging?"

Q Is there a problem between water users above and below the lake?

A Yes, there is litigation against each other. We have offered to settle. We have different opinions regarding tribes and secret meetings. I hope and pray we can settle.

Glen Howard, vice-president of the group and Project irrigator, talked about the tribal forest plan.  He said that the Forest Service looks at the soil, water, animals, and plants. The tribal plan speaks of timber.  The Forest Service plan has taken decades to form. The tribes are putting a plan together in a few months.

Statement. Not every tribal member gets to vote.  They speak of preserving burial sites, but their tribal administration building is right on top of a burial site.

Mr Sanderval, tribal member hoping to become tribal chairman, said that the tribes actually had 22 million acres.  He wants 22 million acres to become a wildlife refuge. "I believe we should all come together and work on this." He is concerned that the tribes can hunt deer when they are in rut.

Edward Bartell, board member, said that the tribes were paid in 1864 for their 22 million acres. They voted and were paid. He detailed how many voted to sell their reservation, and how much money they received. 220 million was paid out in a cash payment.  Edison Chiloquin kept his assets. 

A large map showed the boundaries of the proposed land reacquisition, explained by Glen Howard.

Judy Criswell, board member, said if she gets on tribal land, its like foreign land and she must go to their courts.

Crowd member, They can change their constitution any time.

Howard explained that the tribe's vision for their children was to leave home and blend with society, experience white man's laws and education.

Crowd member, We should have the government submit a plan of how much money they plan to spend to take our land, and we can submit a matching application for matching funds.  LAUGHTER

Howard, "A nation within a nation can not stand."

Crowd member, "There was an article in the paper that said the Tribes discovered water was their ace in the hole.  They dangle their water rights for land for casino.  The tactic here is the same.

Crowd member, "we would be giving up our rights without due process."

Howard.  Foreman (Tribal Chairman) talks about the government as a cloudy thing.  The forest land is our land.

Someone, "Bettenberg is Gail Norton's man and we hear he is introducing legislation as we speak.  Those folks shouldn't be drafting legislation.  We should be at the public meetings.

Someone else, "The Herald and News had said that they were hoping to have legislation done by last year.  Other documents we have say by August 2004. Rangeland Trust has been getting exclusive contracts to market millions of dollars of water.  Jake Kahn is their scientist who was instrumental in raising lake levels and shutting down the Klamath Project in 2001.

Rancher, I don't think they are using that much water in the Upper Basin that they're getting paid for.

Howard, The water bank sets a precedent on the price and value of water.

Someone, Roots daughter is employed as the KBRT hydrologist.

There were informational packets, and the new website was announced, , www.basinalliance.com





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