Tribes present their case
Published Dec 14, 2003
By DYLAN DARLING
Klamath Tribal Chairman Allen Foreman faced a mostly
skeptical crowd of about 150 people Saturday in
Klamath Falls as he made a case for re-establishing
the Tribes' reservation that was abolished by the
federal government nearly 50 years ago.
About 100 people demonstrated outside to protest the
idea, while plain-clothes police officers sat among
the crowd inside. The gathering inside included
about 30 tribal members.
While the mood was tense at times, the meeting was
orderly and concluded abruptly.
Speaking to a crowd packed inside the Mabel Liskey
Henzel Pavilion, Foreman outlined why the Tribes
want 690,000 acres of national forest land, and how
they would manage it.
Foreman said federal termination in 1954 devastated
the Klamath Tribes, which he said had been one of
the most prosperous tribes in the country.
"It was like a plague," he said.
Allen Foreman, chairman of the Klamath Tribes,
explains why the Tribes want to have a reservation
re-established to about 150 people who packed Mabel
Liskey Pavilion Saturday afternoon.
Donald Wharton, an attorney with the Native American
Rights Fund in Boulder, Colo., said the Tribes want
the land for spiritual, cultural and legal reasons.
"At the heart of what the Tribes are talking about
is a legal issue," he said. "The rectification of a
Wharton has been working with the Klamath Tribes off
and on for different organizations since 1973.
Foreman went through about 55 questions that were
brought up repeatedly at the two previous meetings -
in Beatty on Nov. 10 and in Chiloquin on Nov. 12.
The questions ranged from queries about access to
concerns about the effect on private land.
Foreman said the Tribes are not looking to take over
land that is private property.
"The Tribes would not do to others the injustice
they felt was done to them," he said.
Many unanswered questions, especially those specific
to resource management, should be addressed by the
Tribes' forest management plan, Foreman said.
The 116-page plan should be on the Tribes' Web site
by Thursday, and copies will be available at
libraries around the Klamath Basin.
"The plan is field-based. The people working on it
actually went out and walked the land," he said.
The existence of the Tribes, Foreman said, depends
on the natural resources within the old reservation
boundaries, and that is why they want the land back.
"We've attempted to co-manage the forest with the
Forest Service, but it has been a dismal failure,"
After his presentation, Foreman opened the meeting
Many people who are becoming familiar faces at the
Tribes' public meetings raised their hands with
One of them was James "Mountain Chief" Sanderville,
a tribal member who has used the meetings to
question the Tribes' leadership.
When he first tried to ask a question Saturday he
was asked to wait his turn. Some in the crowd
shouted for him to get a chance to speak, while
others told him to sit down.
Once it was his turn to speak, Sanderville stood.
Again came the dueling calls for him to get a chance
for him to get a chance to speak and for him to "sit
down and shut up."
After a couple of questions, Sanderville was cut
off. Tribal attorney Shayleen Idrogo said his
questions and concerns should be brought at the
Tribes' General Council meeting and not at the
Sanderville concluded his remarks by saying,
"Ignorance is dangerous," then walked out of the
He returned a couple of minutes later with a sign
that read "Investigate Tribal Corruption."
Midway through the question-and-answer session, a
group of people, mostly some of those who had been
protesting outside, left the meeting.
Pat Cane of Sprague River, who held a protest sign
during the meeting, stayed, but she didn't like what
She said she doesn't believe the Tribes should be
entitled to receive land they sold to the
Janet Walksnice, a tribal member from Klamath Falls,
said the meeting was a good start, but there is a
lot more education needed.
Walksnice, 31, said re-establishment of a
reservation would help her generation and the
younger tribal members understand their culture.
"It's a goal for all of us," she said.
Today, tribal officials planned to hold a public
meeting in Portland. They will then go to Salem
Monday, Eugene Tuesday and Medford Friday. The
officials are doing a tour of the I-5 corridor
because many tribal members moved there after
Foreman said the Tribes may hold more public
meetings in the Basin, although none are scheduled
at this time.
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Reporter Dylan Darling covers natural resources. He
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