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Malibu Chumash Village to Host Klamath Riverkeeper Event

Local Groups Join Ranks with Organizations Seeking Removal of Four Dams

by Anne Soble 7/24/2008 Malabu Surfside News

The activist group Ventura Coastkeeper is hosting a fundraiser on Saturday at the Nicholas Canyon County Park Chumash village to support a sister environmental organization’s fight to remove four dams and restore one of the state’s great rivers, the Klamath.

According to the event’s organizers, “At stake are the traditional cultures of California’s three largest Native American tribes as well as the state’s commercial and sport salmon fisheries.”

Mati Waiya, who is the head of Ventura Coastkeeper and a member of the Chumash tribe in the area, has spearheaded local cooperation with Klamath Riverkeeper.

Waiya says, “It’s important that we support one another’s struggles because all things and all struggles for justice are connected.”

He adds that is why he is working with the international Waterkeeper Alliance to launch a Tribal Waterkeepers program.

Klamath Riverkeeper’s objective is to convince PacifiCorp, which is overseen by Warren Buffet, to remove four dams on the Klamath River that have reportedly led to dramatic declines in the salmon population, as well as massive blooms of toxic blue green algae.

According to Klamath Riverkeeper’s Regina Chichizola, “Buffet’s PacifiCorp is creating an ecological disaster and native people and commercial salmon fishermen are paying the price.”

Chichizola says this weekend’s event is important to help fund the group’s actions on “this critical concern, “Funds raised will help the Klamath Riverkeeper and the Karuk tribes’ actions to solve the Klamath crisis,” she said.

Recently, Klamath Riverkeeper, along with members of the Karuk, Yurok, and Hoopa tribes, disrupted Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, in an attempt to draw national attention to what is happening.

According to Chichizola, PacifiCorp is owned by Mid-American Energy, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway ,and Buffett is president and majority shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway.

Chichizola says, “We want Buffett and PacifiCorp to know that as long as there is no business as usual for salmon fisherman on the Klamath, there will be no business as usual for them either.”

The groups hope that additional political and economic pressure will come from environmentalists who do not want to see the river destroyed.

The event that will be held at Wishtoyo Foundation’s Chumash Village at Nicholas Canyon County Park will feature traditional songs and regalia from the local Chumash community and the Ohlone dancers, as well as performers from the Klamath River tribes.

Organizers say the highlight of the evening will be a dinner of traditional fire-roasted Klamath salmon.

“Once you have a taste of what could be lost, you quickly become a supporter of our struggle,” said Leaf Hillman of the Karuk Tribe.

The groups taking part in the event hope to raise $75,000 to support their campaign efforts, including the cost of experts to assist with a nuisance lawsuit against Buffett’s PacifiCorp that is now headed to trial.

The July 26 event is set for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the site that features a reconstruction of a Chumash village and a spectacular view of the waters the Chumash people once traversed in numbers.

Donations to assist the Klamath campaign are requested.

Malibuites interested in at­tending the event can obtain additional information from Waiya at 805-794-1248, or Chichizola at 541-951-0126.

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