Activists Gathering Tomorrow to Push for Snake River Dam Removal
Native American activists and environmental justice activists will visit Lewiston, Idaho tomorrow to support the removal of the Snake River dams.
It's part of a campaign that made stops at Pasco's Sacajawea Historical State Park and Spokane's Northwest Museum and Arts and Culture this month.
The gathering in Lewiston follows a memorandum signed by President Biden calling for a national effort to honor commitments to the Nez Perce by restoring salmon to healthy levels.
“Time is running out to protect our sacred salmon,” Shannon Wheeler, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribe, said in a release. “This is a crisis that threatens our way of life, and it is a violation of our treaty rights. The federal government is failing to uphold the promises made to our ancestors when we ceded our lands.”
4th District Congressman Dan Newhouse opposes dam removal. He says there has been a lack of transparency from the Biden Administration throughout the process.
"Even the rivers without dams are having the same issues that the Columbia and Snake River are having," Representative Newhouse said. "The input from key stakeholders that should be at the table is being ignored. That's just unacceptable."
Representative Newhouse says the number of Wild Chinook in the Snake River has more than doubled, and last year witnessed the highest salmon returns since 2016.
"Thanks to the invaluable research from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the dams now employ techniques that allow 96-98% of young salmon to pass each dam successfully. Destroying the dams would yield marginal—if any—improvements" Representative Newhouse said in a release.
Tomorrow's gathering starting at 9am is what's called a smudging ceremony of a steel art sculpture at Hells Gate State Park in Lewiston. The artwork depicts the tribe's relationship with buffalo, bear, eagle and orca.
Those expected to speak include elders of the Nez Perce Tribe, Executive Director of Native Organizers Alliance Judith LeBlanc, Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment Coordinator Julian Matthews and former members of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee and General Council.
Salmon River Scenic Byway, Idaho
Gallery Credit: Tammie Toren