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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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By: Erika Bentsen  Sent to KBC 8/13/13

Don't expect to own a ranch in Klamath County, Oregon if you aren't a recognized member of the Klamath tribes. Only tribal members will receive relief from the government induced drought in Klamath County according to a July 26, 2013 posting on www.grants.gov. Neighboring ranchers who aren't Indian are experiencing the exact same conditions with the exact same water rights, but they will get nothing.

The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) released a Notice of Intent to Award Funds "without full and open competition." Members of the Klamath tribes who currently own land on the reservation that the tribe sold in 1954 will be given special treatment and exclusionary grant money not available to non-tribal members who are suffering the same loss of irrigation water. Governor Kitzhaber declared a state of drought emergency in Klamath County in April. His Executive Order called for agencies to mitigate the drought situation by lessening the economic effects on farmers and ranchers in the county. But it is apparent now that meant only tribal members "will be eligible for financial compensation in exchange for forbearing use of their surface water rights."

These funds, totaling $825,000, will be administered by the tribes exclusively to tribal members. The tribe will be paid $20,000 to administer payouts of $250/acre---over twice current pasture rent rates. The BOR declared that the tribes have "unique qualifications" that allow them these entitlements. In the official description of justification for the payoffs, the BOR states:

"The Klamath Tribes have lived in the place of their creation, the upstream area of Upper Klamath Lake (UKL), in the Klamath Basin, since time immemorial. This connection to their homeland gives them intimate knowledge of weather and water patterns and local knowledge of the area to a level no other entity would be able to quickly gain. The Klamath Tribes are vastly familiar with the type, size, location, and points of diversion of the irrigated systems for the Tribal Allottees and they are familiar with the crop types planted on these lands. Due to this unique ability to quickly assess the situation, along with the ability to instantly monitor the program efficiently, the Klamath Tribes are positioned well for these emergency actions.

"This local historical knowledge of the intricate details of the water management system in the Klamath Tribal area makes the Klamath Tribes uniquely qualified to develop and administer this program in the most cost effective way possible.

"The Klamath Tribes have unique and compelling knowledge and understanding of their unique culture, tribal rules, regulations, goals, incentives, and governance structure in order to properly align the Drought Program seamlessly and effectively in order to provide proper insight and oversight.

"Additionally, the Klamath Tribes are uniquely positioned to accurately monitor, assess, and report on the impacts of the Drought Program to their own tribal community regarding their governance structure, culture, fisheries, and the tribal trust obligations. Using internal technical expertise, the Klamath Tribes will be able to effectively infuse the Drought Program into their community and Tribal culture."

It seems that the Klamath tribes have relegated their entire culture to the belief of Lamarckism evolution, the theory that knowledge acquired by the parents is automatically inherited by the child. This would be laughable if it wasn't really happening. In what can only be described as a proclamation of tribal genetic superiority, the BOR is directly violating its own anti-discrimination regulations by awarding preferential treatment to the Klamath tribes because of their race. This is the tribe whose 3,500 members are allowed to take 40,000 deer annually from already depleted herds, who are protecting their sacred fish only until they get to Klamath Lake where water can then be utilized by tribal allies, and who have threatened Crater Lake National Park and Bly, Oregon with domestic use water shutoffs in setting up their chessmen in this game for supreme control over water.

Are these selective entitlements fair? Why are taxpayers forced to make payouts to sovereign nationalists and sacrifice other citizens? Who approved this? Does this mean that the BOR officially believes that only tribes are acceptable owners of land? Is the federal government dictating who is allowed property ownership? Doesn't this constitute an illegal taking of property based solely on ethnicity?

What does this mean to the future of Klamath County? Are tribal members going to be the only ones allowed to own land? Now that irrigation is taken out of production, property values are plummeting. But only tribal members will be compensated; all others will be bankrupted. Who gets the land next? Will the tribes buy it for pennies on the dollar? Then what? Will the water in the rivers no longer be called, like it was before the tribes sold the reservation? If the irrigation is then restored, the land values will soar once more and the tribes will have successfully stolen back the land they sold. It's ingenious. And unique.



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