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California Tribes and Fishermen Come to Omaha on Quest to Save Salmon
by Dan Bacher, Indy Bay,  Apr 30th, 2007 
Members of the Karuk, Yurok and Hoopa Valley Tribes and their allies from commercial fishing and conservation groups will arrive in Omaha today in a journey to convince Warren Buffett to remove the Klamath River dams.


For Immediate Release: May 1, 2007

Contact: Craig Tucker, Klamath Coordinator, Karuk Tribe, 919-207-8294

Leaders want to tell Berkshire Investors that dam removal is good for salmon and good for business

Omaha, NE – Members of California’s three largest Indian Tribes and allies from commercial fishing and conservation groups arrive in Omaha today in a quest to save their salmon and their cultures. At issue is an aging complex of dams owned by Portland based PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of Berkshire’s Mid American Energy.

According to Richard Myers of the Yurok Tribal Council, “These dams are poor power producers, offer no flood control, and do not provide water for irrigators. The only thing they do well is destroy the livelihoods of Indians and fishermen.”

Chook Chook Hillman is one of four fatevaneen, or world renewal priests, who come to Omaha fasting in preparation for a medicine making ceremony. According to Hillman, “the river is our grocery store, our playground, and our church. PacifiCorp’s dams desecrate what is most valuable and sacred for us. We want the owners of this company to hear our story and then act to stop the injustice.”

The Tribes and fishermen’s claim that dam removal is the right decision for Berkshire’s PacifiCorp is based on more than moral and ethical arguments. Both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the California Energy Commission have filed reports that conclude that dam removal is cheaper than relicensing. This is due to the fact that the dams produce relatively little power and upgrading the antiquated complex to comply with modern environmental laws will cost $400 million.

Ronnie Pellegrini is the wife of a commercial salmon fishermen. She and her two daughters traveled to Omaha with the tribes while her husband stayed home to take advantage of every day of the short fishing season. “The destruction of the Klamath affects the livelihoods of thousands of commercial fishing families too. Everyone in our communities, native and non-native, are in the same boat and that boat is sinking fast.”

The Tribes will be hosting a series of events in the Omaha this week leading up to a rally at the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders’ meeting on Saturday, May 5 at the Qwest Center.

On Thursday May 3rd the tribes will host a salmon tasting at Heartland of America Park where they will roast salmon traditionally on an open fire on redwood spits. Kippered and smoked salmon, sturgeon and eel will also be available.

On Friday May 4th, Tribal members will perform a Brush Dance which an ancient healing ceremony again at Heartland of America Park. The ceremony features singers, dancers and impressive traditional regalia.

On Saturday May 5th the group plans to demonstrate outside the Qwest Center during the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders’ meeting.

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For more information and previous press releases log on to: http://www.karuk.us/press%20&%20campaigns/press.php

Also see http://www.ferc.gov



Tribes take protest on road

April 30, 2007 by Hilary Corrigan, Triplicate staff writer

On Friday evening, Yurok Tribal member Bob McConnell towed a 20-foot long redwood canoe across the Nevada dessert, leading a caravan on a mission to America's heartland.

Area tribes, conservation groups and fishermen have taken the Klamath River's problems on the road.

In a high-profile bid to prompt the removal of dams on the waterway, about 35 participants will petition Warren Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, during the company's annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Neb., on May 5.

"What is the cost of that business to literally tens of thousands of people and to tribal cultures?" McConnell said. "They need to learn who we are."

Berkshire Hathaway owns MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. that last year bought Portland, Ore.-based PacifiCorp, the power company that operates four dams on the Klamath River.

In full regalia, several Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley tribal world renewal priests – after fasting in the days leading up to the event in order to strengthen their prayers' power – will lead a healing ceremony between the Missouri River and the Qwest Center, where Buffett will address his associates at about the same time.

"The Karuk, Hoopa and Yurok have always worked together whenever there's been desperate times and these are desperate times," said Karuk Tribe Klamath Campaign coordinator Craig Tucker.

For years, tribal members, fishermen and conservationists have called for the dams' removal as PacifiCorp seeks to renew a license to run them for another 50 years. The groups have pointed to poor water quality, toxic algae blooms, dwindling salmon populations and a 2002 fish kill when more than 50,000 salmon washed ashore. They also note the offshore commercial salmon fishing season closure last year, based on the low Klamath River stock, that devastated the industry along the California and Oregon coast.

"There's too many signs that it's going down," McConnell said of the river.

The 57-year-old remembers, as a teenager, watching thousands of salmon stream along the Klamath.

"Nowadays, you gotta go to Alaska to see stuff like that and we had it right there, right there in that river," said McConnell, who gave up his river guide business in the 1980s when clients failed to catch fish. "There's just a vast difference in what it was and what it is now."

Restoration, not money

The group started the trip with a rally in San Francisco on Thursday, traveled to Sacramento for a press conference on the California Capital steps yesterday and now head for Salt Lake City, Utah, where they will protest outside the offices of PacifiCorp leaders.

In Omaha, they will host a traditional salmon bake and a brush dance at the Heartland of America Park in the days leading up to the shareholders meeting.

The groups are reenacting the tactic they used in 2004 and 2005 when they traveled to Glasgow, Scotland and hosted similar rallies near the site of the annual shareholder's meeting for Scottish Power that owned PacifiCorp at the time.

"People in Scotland really related to the tribe," Tucker said, comparing Scottish resistence to British rule and Native American tribes' resistence to the U.S. Government. "They really got it."

Scottish Power sold PacifiCorp to Buffett's holdings.

"PacifiCorp's not been a very good negotiating partner," Tucker said, complaining that the company has withheld water quality data. "It's necessary, basically, to climb the corporate ladder and take the case directly to Warren Buffett."

The group will pass out financial information to about 20,000 shareholders expected to attend the meeting. Flyers will break down costs of removing the dams compared to costs of operating them with expensive mitigation measures, including fish ladders, that the federal government would require.

McConnell, though, plans to appeal to Buffett's moral and ethical qualities.

Group members know that the reknowned philanthropist who gives billions of dollars to organizations probably receives all sorts of requests.

"We're not looking for money. We're looking for restored ecosystems that will restore economies, that will restore cultures," said McConnell, a member of the largest and poorest tribe in California, which relies on salmon for food and lacks electricity on more than half of its reservation. "I really want these guys to know how much that river means to the tribal people, and actually the world."

He recalled the waterway's nickname.

"The steelhead capital of the world. It's not anymore," McConnell said.

Reach Hilary Corrigan at hcorrigan@triplicate.com.


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