Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Congressman John T. Doolittle
Dear Congressman Doolittle,
I guess it was the remnants of Massive Upheaval that I found so fascinating when our family road trips would bring us to the Tulelake/Klamath Basin area. From the horrendous explosive forces which turned Mt. Mazama into Crater lake, to the massive lava flows and artifacts of the Modoc War at the Lava Beds National Monument, to nearby remains of the Japanese, Italian and German Internment facilities, there was a lot to "show and tell" when I got back to school.
The internment of American citizens of Japanese decent was by no means my favorite part of Basin history. It was a tremendously heavy and sad part of our tour. It blended well with the mood that descended on me after I asked one of the neighborhood dads if he got to fight in the war. As he bolted up from the dinner table he glared at me and said, "Yes I did and let me tell you, it was not a game. Good people died and died hard and dirty, everywhere. Yea, I fought, but sometimes Iím still not so sure I lived through it". Children can have a very naive worldview; mine became a bit more mature that day. Many years latter it was good to see that there was finally a WWII monument in place. I was glad for the sake of the neighborhood dads, for my dad and all of the other service men and women involved in the Big War. There are some things that we can not afford to forget.
My wife and I now make our livelihood and home in the Tulelake area. My better half actually works in one of the former interment camp service buildings. The business that she works for has been in existence probably eight times longer than the internment camp was active. We have contributed to the preservation of Internment Camp history; after all we truly believe that there are some things that we need to remember. Former internees, their family and friends, who include the Tulelake Butte Valley Fair and the citizens of the Klamath Basin, are to be commended for their extraordinary historical preservation efforts and success. The story has been preserved in print, by photographic history, art and through artifacts which include an authentic guard tower as well as a furnished housing structure.
One can only imagine how difficult it was for the internees in the camp; their past, future and hope were displaced with them. It could not have been easy either for those who were forced by the upheaval of WWII to judge the reasoning behind, let alone actually carry out the anguished displacement of their fellow citizens. The complications, issues and considerations in that process, at a time when the entire world seemed to have gone mad, must have been unfathomable.
On the positive side, it is important that we never loose sight of our nationís great moral restraint during that time either. At least partially due to our national values and the value which we placed upon freedom, there were great travesties engaged in by our enemies which we chose not to commit. Those sanctioned evils included: starvation, genocide, brutal and often to the death slavery, rape, molestation, forced prostitution, torture, death marches and medical experimentation, just to name a few. What we choose not to do is a tremendous monument to the sort of Nation-For-Which-We-Stand.
I have given much thought to the proposed registration of the Tulelake Segregation Center and Internment Camp as a National Historic Landmark. My decision making course seems to bring me back again and again to upheaval and our Nationís present values and the value which we as a nation and a people assign to various things, especially to freedom and individual rights. It is because of values and the assignment of value that I feel that we should wait and make sure that we are not creating present, future, unnecessary, unreasonable and unjust upheaval in the lives of American citizens before we commit to monumentalizing errors past. After all, it just may be that injustice, oppression, the infringement upon the rights, lives and futures of American citizens (social, emotional and economic upheaval) is taking place in the Tulelake/Klamath Basin area at this very moment.
Maybe the current upheaval would have never begun if truth and grounded science would have been employed at the onset. Isnít it sad that Klamath Basin lake and shore soil core samples were never gathered, or if gathered never made available? You know, the sort of scientific evidence that would clearly reveal what the true hydrology history of the Klamath Basin was, before local irrigators began the process of securing a consistent and year round water supply in Klamath Lake. Isnít it sad that when you go to the Crater Lake National Monument, even though there are extensive and expensive volcanic and natural history displays, no mention is made of volcanic material (including phosphorous) traveling south to towards Klamath? Did it only go north, west and east? Isnít it tragic that there are no completed or ongoing studies pointed at determining how much phosphorous (natural volcanic fertilizer) is still washing down into the Klamath Lake Basin from volcanic sources? These things by them self may well be a monument to what our nation has now become; one that can recall past indiscretions on one hand while it commits new ones on the other. Shameful.
It doesnít take an advanced scientific degree to reason that because of massive volcanic upheaval, area soil makeup and consequent water depth and quality may have been drastically affected by the big blast. It requires only the most basic logic to consider the possibility that mankind, wildlife and hydroelectric power production may have tremendously benefited from the foresight of those historic figures who carefully did what it took to plan and build the Klamath Irrigation Project.
Please, let us give careful thought to the current Tulelake turmoil before we place future generations in the position of having to consider how best to memorialize the Great Human Klamath Upheaval Tragedy. Please, let us look more carefully at those things which have been shadily employed to forecast our nationís future and sustainability. Let us please be careful, lest we will run the risk of jeopardizing our future by allocating too much to potentially time and agenda tarnished interpretations of things past. Let us likewise take a close look at those individuals and/or groups who through political science, social science and science fiction would callously and flippantly invoke uncalled for human tragedy upon citizens of the United States of America. It is after all simply a matter of values and value, past, present and future.
Tulelake, CA 96134
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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