Tribal leaders with Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) at the Salmon Orca Summit.
By RANDY’L TETON
Office of Public Affairs
SHELTON, Wash. — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and other Northwest Tribes participated in a Salmon Orca Summit in Shelton, Washington to discuss the urgent need to restore the lower Snake River.
The Summit was sponsored by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) and the Nez Perce Tribe to share, listen, and discuss the need for change with Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson and other members of congress that participated via Zoom. Over 50 sovereign tribal nations are represented by ATNI and were invited to join in on the critical discussion of supporting the salmon and energy legislative proposal.
Chairman Devon Boyer stated, “We are here to save our Salmon. They are at the extinction level. In the past two days, we listened to Tribes provide heartfelt testimony of how essential the salmon is to our way of life. We are asking for change and the required congressional funding to repair, maintain and construct necessary ‘salmon’ infrastructure.”
The Summit was hosted at Little Creek Casino and Lodge located on the traditional homelands of the Squaxin Island Tribe near Shelton, Washington. Various non-profit organizations showed up in full support of the tribes and the Summit. Lifesize salmon and orcas were placed outside of the event center to draw attention to the gathering and the critical issue at hand.
Over 80 to 100 participants listened in via Zoom and/or watched the Summit via Facebook Live on Nez Perce Tribes’ Facebook page. Washington State Senator Patty Murray and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, both indicated that continued discussions must occur, including dam removal on the Lower Snake River, and that a comprehensive solution must be developed quickly to save salmon and orcas from extinction. In addition, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington State Congressional Representative. Earl Blumenauer attended via Zoom and provided verbal statements of support for Simpson for bringing this critical issue to everyone’s attention. It is time for a much-needed plan of action.
Nez Perce Vice-Chairman, Shannon Wheeler said, “all our stories are similar with the lack of salmon and how we must and will continue to move forward to fight for the next seven generations.”
Tribal youth also expressed support for Simpson’s proposal. The Tribal Youth Leadership Council from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, traveled to the Summit and provided powerful testimony. Keyen Greene-Singer, 17 years old, indicated “We’ve been asked to wait for decades, but the salmon are dying. We need action and we demand it now.”
Salmon recovery is nothing new to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. In 1990, the Tribe petitioned the federal government to list sockeye salmon as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, which also brought awareness to all salmon stocks in Idaho.
In March 2021, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes sent an official letter to the President Biden, offering full support of Representative Simpson’s proposal. “The Tribes understand and support Congressman Simpson’s proposal as encompassing more than salmon. It is a comprehensive, pro-energy, improved infrastructure and technology, revisioning of the Northwest and the Columbia River Basin. Frankly it proposes a better, smarter future for the Northwest: precisely targeted river restoration and salmon recovery; intensive investment in new clean energy, infrastructure, and technology; and long-term litigation resolution and legal certainty.”
Congressman Mike Simpson presented on both days after he heard from the various Tribes and offered an emotional verbal presentation of the Columbia Basin Initiative. He included his own story of fishing with his father and uncle during his youth and how plentiful the salmon would be in the Idaho waters. Simpson provided an emotional statement, “We will not give up on salmon.”
According to Vice Chairman Wheeler, they plan to meet again but this time in Washington DC. No further information was announced.
To learn more about the Tribes advocacy go to www.sbtribes.com/saveidahosalmon or to take action and help, click here https://www.saveidahosalmon.org/