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61 ChangingVoices Changes in Empowerment: Rising Voices in Columbia Basin Resource Management Barbara Cosens Introduction The growing demand for a public voice in natural resource decision making discussed in Chapter 4 has little application if local capacity to participate is lacking. In the Columbia River Basin both the empowerment and capacity of basin communities to participate has grown substantially since negotiation of the 1964 treaty, suggesting that the public is prepared to participate and even likely to demand participation in any decision on whether to and how to modify the treaty. Factors contributing to and defining this rise in empowerment and capacity include: (1) legal recognition of the treaty rights of certain Native American tribes to participate in the harvest and management of Columbia basin fisheries within the United States; (2) establishment of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council in the United States in 1980; (3) Constitutional recognition of the rights of First Nations in Canada in 1982; and (4) legislative recognition of the Columbia Basin Trust in Canada in 1995. The two essays in this chapter illustrate some of those voices. The following paragraphs describe the legal and legislative changes that have given rise to that empowerment. The Rights of Native Americans The pulse of the Columbia River is defined by the annual migrations of anadromous fish—fish spawned in fresh water that migrate to the ocean as smolts and return as adults to their natal streams to repeat the cycle.The importance of Columbia basin fisheries to Native American tribes is reflected in oral tradition and ceremonies. Of greatest significance was the annual return of the chinook salmon (Landeen 1999).The tribes gathered with other northwest tribes at Celilo Falls on the Columbia River to harvest the salmon supply that would carry them through winter (Landeen 1999). A federal district court opinion noted “[t]hese fish were vital to the [northwest] Indian diet, played an important role in their religious life, and constituted a major element of their trade and economy.Throughout most of the area salmon was a staple food and steelhead were also taken, both providing 62 Barbara Cosens essential proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals in the native diet” (United States v. Washington 1974). Salmon provided the primary protein source, but its importance to the tribe did not end with food supply.“Salmon” plays a major role in Native American mythology as shown by this excerpt from “The Maiden and Salmon” (Hines 1999): And now Salmon came up the river after making a phenomenal recovery to life.“I go now to have revenge.” He came up the river. He would swim along for a while; then, he would go ashore to walk along, up the valley.While he was thus walking, he saw a lodge with smoke wafting from it.“Let me just go in.” He entered noiselessly [‘xu-l’]. There sat an old man spinning; it was Spider. Salmon said to him,“Why are you spinning, old man?” “Oh just to sew my clothes,” he replied. But Salmon knew well enough what he was doing, that he was making a fishnet.The old man had told him this, because from the very beginning he had identified him, by smell, as Salmon. Salmon went outside and said to all the salmon,“You will swarm past here, all of you salmon.You will come to the old man; you will thus take pity on him.” The life cycles of Columbia basin fisheries were used to mark time: 8.Then cam Hesu’al (Ha-soo-ahl), the time when the hesu (eels) move to the upper tributaries. (Hesu was a favored fish in the Nez Perce diet). 9. Next came Qoyst’sal (Khoy-tsahl), the season of the run of the blue back salmon (k’ohyl-ehkts) in the upper tributaries. . . . 11.Then came Nat’soxliwal (Nah-t’ sohkh-le-wahl), the time when the nat’sox (chinook salmon) return to the upper rivers, ready to journey to the spawning streams. 12. August wasWawama’ayqll’al (wa-wam-aye-k’ahl), the time when the chinook salmon reach the canyon streams and fishermen move to the upper rivers. 13. September was Piq’uunm’ayq’al (Pe-khoon-mai-kahl), the season when the fall salmon run upstream and when the fingerlings journey down river. (Landeen 1999). The spiritual, cultural, and subsistence reliance of the northwest tribes on Columbia basin fisheries led to the inclusion of what has been interpreted to be highly significant language in a series of...


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