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Salmon on the Backs of Buffalo

Film by Dr. Kari Norgaard, UC Davis, and Karuk Tribe, 2004

Notes by KBC News 11/12/06

Klamath River tribal delegation and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen attorney went to the Scottish Power headquarters to speak with Ian Russel, C.E.O. of Scottish Power, and meet with Scottish Power shareholders in Edinburgh, Scotland because "Scottish Power owns the dams that are blocking our fish from being able to return to their native homeland."

They spoke with the Scottish people on the street in Edinburgh as well, and included many in a salmon bake and drumming.

"They got rid of the buffalo so they could get rid of the Indians. 100 years later, they're getting rid of the fish so they can get rid of the Indians. It's being used as a weapon against us right now." (images of dead rotting fish).

The film proceeds down the Klamath River, showing the beautiful homelands of the Yurok, Hoopa, Karuk and Klamath Indians. Then it shows the farmland, saying that the "Upper Klamath Basin grows high quality alfalfa and other crops in a high desert environment. This alfalfa, grown in this desert climate, required lots of water, and intensive irrigations, including water diversions, reservoirs and dams. These dams create a barrier to fish passage to the Upper Basin."

"Industrial agriculture in the Upper Basin has much political and financial power. The Farm Bureau and local government continue to pressure for more water diversions." The lack of salmon has ruined their health and economies. Now the Karuk people are forced to eat unhealthy government commodities.

 In the spring of 2002, "Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton traveled to the Upper Basin to rally farmers around diverting water."

The tribes protested excessive water diversions, and "as the tribes predicted, the next summer saw the worst fish kill in history. Over 30,000 salmon were killed by lack of water."

Ron Reed, Karuk Tribe, said there used to be 100 village sites and fisheries in 70 miles and now they only have one fishery.

On the Salmon River they are all wild fish, but on the Klamath you can't tell hatchery from wild salmon. They were trapping 30 lamprey per day.

Karuk Toz Soto said the Salmon River tributary should have more water.

A woman said she wants to "help keep this place healthy, keeping from doing harmful practices like spraying pesticides and herbicides "

Craig Tucker, outreach director of Friends of the River, and other Friends staff were there because, "the tribal issue is sort of rolled up into the tribal social justice issue, and we are here first and foremost in support of that."

PCFFA Glen Spain director and attorney holds a protest sign, "Dams, weapons of mass obstruction."

Frankie Joe Meyers, Yurok Tribe: "We feel dams are destroying our culture, our fish. Our fish are the heart of our culture, and that way they are destroying our people."

Karuk Ron Reed, "I feel very passionate about what I do. Now that's the reason why we're over here, to carry the message across the great pond, to let them know our concerns. There's human rights violations here; there's our constitutional rights. We have a right to our food, to our religion and our way of life. We're not going away. We'll fight to the bitter end."

"Klamath Salmon Media Collaborative is part of the Klamath Salmon Working Group"

Members of KSWG include Karuk Tribe, Mid Klamath Watershed Council, Klamath Forest Alliance, Salmon River Restoration Council.

Edited and produced by Salmon Norgaard Stroich at the Mid Klamath Watershed Council

Videography by Will Harling, MKWC, Toz Soto Karuk Tribe, Salmon Norgaard Stroich KFA, Petey Brucker SRRC, Michaed Max Hentz

Song, "People, that's what it takes. It takes people to balance the rights from the wrongs, to put in this song before they drag you away or burn your house down, yes they will, they'll burn your house down." Soundtrack Petey Brucker, Rex Richardson, Peter Blue Cloud from soundtrack "Alliance."


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