Americans demonstrating in Edinburgh
yesterday Fish rotting in the Klamath
river. The tribesmen are calling for
fish ladders or other measures to allow
salmon to move upstream.
Picture: David Moir
Tribes enlist Arnie's help in
embroiled in a dispute with the energy company
ScottishPower have pledged to take their case
to the governor of the State of California,
The tribesmen were in Edinburgh yesterday to
demonstrate at ScottishPower’s annual meeting.
They say dams owned by a subsidiary of the
company have damaged their fishing grounds.
They publicly challenged the chief executive
of ScottishPower, Ian Russell, to make a
personal commitment to resolving the
Mr Russell, who held private talks with the
tribes on Thursday, promised to take charge of
the company’s negotiations.
But the chairman of the delegation
representing the tribes, Leaf Miller, said he
would bring further pressure to bear on the
company by seeking Mr Schwarzenegger’s
Mr Schwarzenegger is one of only a small
number of people with the power to intervene
in the dispute and force a solution.
The row concerns six dams in the north of
California owned by ScottishPower’s US
subsidiary, PacifiCorp. Four tribes - the
Klamath, Karuk, Yurok and Hoopa - say the dams
have devastated the salmon stock in the
Klamath river basin.
The salmon are an important part of their
economy, religion and history, and the tribes
are trying to persuade ScottishPower to modify
or remove its dams to allow fish to migrate
A member of the Indians’ delegation - whose
native American name is Mohiswaqs but who
introduced himself at the shareholders’
meeting as Jeff Mitchell - made an impassioned
plea for support from the mostly Scottish
He said: "I want to thank you, the people of
Scotland, for your hospitality and for
allowing us to come into your homelands to
speak to you in this way.
"My people have suffered enormous harm. We
would like to see a full range of alternatives
- consistent with our principles - to address
the issues we have raised. I will come back
here again and again until we find a
Mr Russell replied that the tribes had his
"absolute commitment" to finding an answer to
their dispute. He said: "We completely respect
the sovereign nations who are represented here
today. They have behaved with great dignity."
ScottishPower is currently seeking a new
licence to operate the dams from the US water
regulator. The tribes are pressuring the
regulator to insert a clause in the licence
requiring ScottishPower to provide solutions
such as fish ladders - which allow salmon to
Scottish & Southern Energy, the Perth-based
rival to ScottishPower, has installed similar
devices on some rivers in Scotland. Some of
the Californian dams are too tall, however, to
accommodate fish ladders, requiring different
As governor of the state of California, Mr
Schwarzenegger can demand the regulator
inserts guarantees to protect the tribes’
interests. Mr Schwarzenegger’s office was
unavailable yesterday to comment on its
intentions in the case.
Mr Miller said he would press for the
governor’s support shortly. "We have had an
initial contact with the governor’s office and
I will take a campaign to them when I return
to the US," he said.
"In fact, we believe we already have strong
support from some of the state’s agencies,
such as the Water Resource Control Board."
Mr Russell told The Scotsman he was unwilling
to set a deadline to resolve the discussion.
"Some of these licence applications can take
up to ten years," he said.
Mr Mitchell said he hoped the company would
report at its annual meeting in 2005 that the
two sides had agreed a solution.
ScottishPower shareholders heard that the
Indian tribes had spent more than three years
in negotiations with the company’s American
subsidiary. They have been pressuring it to
add - of its own volition - the desired
clauses into its licence application.
But when the company recently submitted its
draft application to the US water regulator,
there was no mention of the salmon issue. The
document is understood to weigh 80lb and stand
three-and-a-half feet high.
Mr Mitchell said: "My people have spent years
in meetings with PacifiCorp, one week of every
month. We have committed enormous resources
and hard work. The company’s interest in the
dams is a very small fraction of their energy
He said ScottishPower’s commitment to the
environment on issues such as green energy was
"impressive". Such concerns were in the
interests of shareholders, he said, and he
asked them to press the company to extend its
consideration to California.
Molly White, from the Karuk tribe, who had
travelled to the protest with her 14-month-old
son, Nicknekich, said: "We hope the
shareholders hear our message and we hope it
has an effect, because the fish are dying and
we cannot live without our fish."
The chief executive of PacifiCorp, Judi
Johansen, said she was "100 per cent
committed" to finding a solution to the
tribes’ requests. She had joined Mr Russell in
the talks with the delegation on Thursday.
Mr Schwarzenegger - also known as Conan the
Republican and The Governator in American
political circles - pledged recently to "fight
like a warrior" for the people of California.