Petitions oppose reservation for tribes
The move revived the debate over tribal land rights and the preservation of national forests.
“We don’t want to poke a stick in and stir things up, but there doesn’t appear to be a right time to bring this up,” said Steve Rapalyea, Klamath Basin Alliance spokesman.
Commissioners said they plan to schedule a public hearing on the issue early next year.
The Klamath Tribes lost its 1-million acre reservation, now part of the Winema-Fremont National Forest, after it was terminated from federal recognition in 1961. The Tribes regained recognition in 1986.
The possibility of re-creating sovereign tribal lands from the national forest came in late 2003 when tribal officials began working with the federal government on the issue. Tribal officials say in order for the Tribes to become self-sufficient, they need to have land on which to base their economy and society.
The Klamath Basin Alliance formed as a result of the Tribes’ attempt to recreate the reservation. The group is opposed to creating a reservation from national forests, Rapalyea said. The group also opposes sale of any public lands in the county.
Rapalyea said while creation of the reservation rests with the federal government, the Tribes are expected to have public support of the move. The Klamath Basin Alliance began circulating its petition about a year ago and more are coming in, he said.
Allen Foreman, chairman and spokesman for the Tribes, was unavailable for comment as of press time.
State Sen. Doug Whitsett, a Klamath Falls Republican, also spoke in opposition to the reservation at the meeting. He said he feared a reservation would further segregate tribal and nontribal Basin residents, violate property rights of landowners within the proposed reservation boundary and create tribal dependence on the federal government.
“It’s a losing proposition for the tribes, for non-tribal citizens and the county,” he said.
Reg LeQuieu, county assessor, also spoke against the reservation and said he submitted one of the petitions the Klamath Basin Alliance gave him.