Rep. Peter DeFazio wrote a letter to the editor published May 9 that talked about problems with the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. In that letter he referenced a letter sent Congress last week from legal experts. Here is the text of that letter:
Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Reid, Speaker Boehner, and Minority Leader Pelosi:
We write out of grave concern about a document we have not been able to see. Although it has not been made available publicly, we understand that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement currently being negotiated includes Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions. ISDS allows foreign investors—and only foreign investors—to avoid the courts and instead to argue to a special, private tribunal that they believe certain government actions diminish the value of their investments.
Courts are central institutions in the rule of law. Americans have much to be proud of in the evolution of our court system, which has evolved over the centuries and now provides equal access for all persons. Courts enable the public to observe the processes of development of law and to watch impartial and accountable decision-makers render judgments.
We write because of our concern that what we know about ISDS does not match what courts can provide. Those advocating using this alternative in lieu of our court system bear the burden of demonstrating why such an exit is necessary, and how the alternate system will safeguard the ideals enshrined in our courts. Thus far, the proponents of ISDS have failed to meet that burden. Therefore, before any ISDS provisions are included in the TPP or any future agreements, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), their content should be disclosed and their purposes vetted in public so that debate can be had about whether and if such provisions should be part of proposed treaties. Below, we detail the ways in which ISDS departs from the justice opportunities that U.S. courts provide.
Our legal system rests on the conviction that every individual, regardless of wealth or power, has an equal right to bring a case to court. To protect and uphold the rule of law, our ideals of fairness and justice must apply in all situations and equally to everyone. ISDS, in contrast, is a system built on differential access. ISDS provides a separate legal system available only to certain investors who are authorized to exit the American legal system. Only foreign investors may bring claims under ISDS provisions. This option is not offered to nations, domestic investors, or civil society groups alleging violations of treaty obligations. Under ISDS regimes, foreign investors alone are granted legal rights unavailable to others – freed from the rulings and procedures of domestic courts.
ISDS also risks undermining democratic norms because laws and regulations enacted by democratically-elected officials are put at risk in a process insulated from democratic input. Equal application of the law is another critically important hallmark of our legal system—one that is secured through the orderly development of law. Court decisions are subject to appeal, ensuring that conflicting lower court decisions are resolved by a higher authority. Judges also must follow legal precedent. The goal is uniform application of the law regardless of which judge or court hears a case. This law development allows people, entities, and nations alike to order their behavior according to well-established legal principles.
In contrast, ISDS does not build in the development of the law. An ISDS arbitral panel’s decision cannot be appealed to a court. The ISDS provisions of which we are aware provide only limited— private—review through a process called annulment that does not permit decisions to be set aside based even on a ―manifest error of law.‖1 Moreover, ISDS arbitrators, like other arbitrators, do not make law because their decisions have no precedential value, and ISDS arbitrators in turn are not obliged to follow precedent in reaching their own decisions.
None of the hallmarks of our court system would be possible without a fair and independent judiciary. Federal judges take an oath to uphold the Constitution and are nominated and confirmed by our democratically elected representatives. State judges likewise commit themselves to upholding the constitutional order. In contrast, ISDS arbitrators are not public servants but private arbitrators. In many cases, there is a revolving door between serving on ISDS arbitration panels and representing corporations bringing ISDS claims. Yet, although such a situation would seem to call for more—not less—oversight and accountability, ISDS arbitrators’ decisions are functionally unreviewable.
As noted at the outset, we have not been able to read the terms of the proposed ISDS chapters for the upcoming TPP and TTIP treaties. But what we know from the past gives us many grounds for concern. During the past few years, foreign investors have used ISDS to challenge a broad range of policies aimed at protecting the environment, improving public health and safety, and regulating industry. These challenges have been around the world, including under trade agreements to which the United States is a party. The publicly available information about these challenges raises serious questions as to whether the United States should be entering into more ISDS agreements with a broad array of nations.
Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly’s pending ISDS proceedings against Canada provide an example of how corporations have used ISDS to challenge a nation’s laws outside the courtroom. After a Canadian court invalidated one of Lilly’s patents, the company initiated ISDS proceedings against Canada under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).2 In seeking $500 million (Canadian), Lilly has challenged as violative of NAFTA the standard the nation uses for granting patents.
Although ISDS tribunals are not empowered to order injunctive relief, the threat and expense of ISDS proceedings have forced nations to abandon important public policies. In the third ISDS proceeding brought under NAFTA, Ethyl Corporation brought an ISDS proceeding against Canada for $251 million for implementing a ban on a toxic gasoline additive. The proceeding took place not in a court, but before an arbitration panel of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). After the arbitration panel rejected Canada’s argument that Ethyl lacked standing to bring the challenge, Canada settled the suit for $13 million. Moreover, Canada lifted the ban on the toxic additive as part of the settlement.3
1 Impregilo S.P.A. v Argentine Republic, ICSID Case No. ARB/07/17 (Annulment Proceeding), Jan. 24, 2014, at ¶ 132. http://www.italaw.com/sites/default/files/case-documents/italaw3044.pdf (―[T]here is a difference between a failure to apply the proper law and the misapplication of the applicable law, and that the latter does not constitute grounds for annulment, even if it is a ‘manifest error of law’ ...‖) (emphasis added).
2 Eli Lilly and Company v. The Government of Canada, Notice of Intent to Submit a Claim to Arbitration under NAFTA (Nov. 7, 2012). Available at:http://italaw.com/sites/default/files/case-documents/italaw1172.pdf. 3 Michelle Sforza & Mark Vallianatos, ―Ethyl Corporation v.s. Government of Canada: Now Investors Can Use NAFTA to Challenge Environmental Safeguards,‖available at http://www.citizen.org/trade/article_redirect.cfm?ID=6221.
It is particularly noteworthy that the three NAFTA countries are each in the top 11 most- challenged countries under the ISDS system. This high rate of challenge in our view has little to do with a rule of law deficit in the U.S. and Canada. Instead, it represents investors taking advantage of easy access to a special legal right available only to them in an alternate legal system.
ISDS weakens the rule of law by removing the procedural protections of the legal system and using a system of adjudication with limited accountability and review. It is antithetical to the fair, public, and effective legal system that all Americans expect and deserve.
Proponents of ISDS have failed to explain why our legal system is inadequate to the task. For the reasons cited above, we urge you to uphold the best ideals of our legal system and ensure ISDS is excluded from upcoming trade agreements.
Judith Resnik , Arthur Liman Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Cruz Reynoso , Professor of Law Emeritus, University of California, Davis School of Law Former Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court
Honorable H. Lee Sarokin, Former United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Joseph E. Stiglitz , University Professor, Columbia University
Laurence H. Tribe , Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Harvard Law School
cc: Ambassador Froman and Chairs & Ranking Members of Finance & Ways & Means Committees
Please note: Organizational affiliation for all signatories is included for identification purposes only; individuals represent only themselves, not the institutions where they are teaching or other organizations in which they are active.
Words by Rick Levin • Photos by Todd Cooper
Tapping a set list that pulled heavily from their soon-to-be-released album Multi-Love, Unknown Mortal Orchestra infused WOW Hall on Thursday, May 7, with a bright, buzzy sound that threaded their trademark psychedelia through sonic realms of bass-heavy neo-Motown and ‘80s funk, all of it held together by the superb songwriting and furious guitar chops of frontman Ruban Nielson. Held deep in the groove by bassist Jake Portrait, drummer Riley Geare and newest member Quincy McCrary on keys, Nielson feathered his smooth croon into songs that, by turns, channeled the pop revivalism of Prince (“Multi-Love”), the plunky Hammond groove of Stevie Wonder (“Like Acid Rain”) and even the angular upbeats and tidal choruses of mid-career Talking Heads (“Necessary Evil”). The whole effect was a beaty, big and bouncy stew of smart, sophisticated music you can dance to, or dance music that is sophisticated and smart. Either way, UMO proved versatile and adaptive, unafraid of pinning a disco undercarriage to the raw, ethereal fuzz of their live sound. This is a talented band on the upswing, and they compel movement.
After their set, we came down to the Weekly's studio and took a few polaroids.
Words by Bryan Kalbrosky • Photos by Todd Cooper
Big Gipp, most known for his work with Atlanta hip-hop collective Goodie Mob, is a godfather of the “Dirty South” rap tradition.
Folks in Eugene who knew he was coming to town were able to watch a living legend on stage at May 3 at WOW Hall. As a young rapper in Atlanta, OutKast featured Gipp on “Git Up, Git Out” on the duo’s debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik in 1994. Alongside Gipp as a frontman in Goodie Mob were Cee-Lo (also known as Gnarls Barkley with Danger Mouse) as well as Khujo and T-Mo.
Yet the crowd was small on Sunday night. The intermission DJ after the opening act made the show feel more like an empty frat party with an excessive light show than a gig headlined by a contemporary of Andre 3000 and Big Boi.
But two people entered the dance floor and each performed front flips, and so the night began. Gipp out rocking a black and red suit, white headband and arguably the whitest shoes I’ve ever seen. He was also wearing grillz, and quickly performed “Grillz” (his radio hit with Nelly about the shiny cosmetic dental apparatuses) to give the crowd some necessary energy early in the night.
Every time the chorus rang “Smile for me daddy” over the speakers, Gipp blessed the crowd with a sparkling smile. He also rapped about the various color grillz he owns, in a verse that included the stanza: “I got four different sets, it’s a fabulous thang … one white, one yellow, like Fabolous chain.”
All night, Gipp’s DJ Prophet scratched vinyls and kept the vibe danceable and fun. “I don’t care if it’s just two people,” said Gipp, a nod at the smaller crowd. “How many people love hip hop?”
At times, however, it was difficult to understand Gipp when he spoke through his grillz — which he kept in his mouth the entire show. But he was easy to hear when he was talking about how all of the “shit happening now, we talked about 20 years ago” before he played the Goodie Mob hit “Cell Therapy” from 1995. He also threw in “Listen up, Eugene, ’cause I’m talking to you” after the second chorus.
Of course, the politically minded Gipp also had his fair share to say about martial law and the current state of Baltimore. His theme focused on police brutality, curfew and marijuana legalization.
When he played “B.O.B.” by OutKast later, I counted a total of 30 people (including performers) in the entire venue. The low attendance was a shame, but Gipp handled the tiny crowd with grace.
During the show, Gipp also discussed giving away music for free, collaborations with Bruno Mars and how he can play venues in front of tens of thousands of people but enjoys “checking in” with the smaller crowds. After complaining about how Cee-Lo didn’t believe in the power of Goodie Mob anymore, Gipp urged the crowd to support emerging hip-hop artists like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.
It’s tough to perform a small show when you’re a rapper, because you can’t do a stripped down acoustic set like a rock ‘n’ roll band might. But when he was hanging around after the show, one fan told Gipp how important his show was to her and her boyfriend. She used to only listen to rock, but when her boyfriend showed her Goodie Mob, she said she became a bigger fan than he was.
The venue played him out to OutKast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious,” and the night ended without an encore. It was cool to see Gipp perform, though he might need a bigger crowd next time to convince him to come back.
A new resale clothing store is headed to Eugene: Plato's Closet. The store will share the former Blockbuster space at 1711 Willamette with Oregon Medical.
"We split it into two," Plato's Closet owner Ken Livingston says of the space. "I think it’s going to be a great location, near the college and South Eugene High. The local demographic there should be pretty good for it."
Plato's Closet, a resale franchise for "tweens" and twentysomethings, is headquartered in Minneapolis. Its parent company is the Winmark Corporation, who also owns Play It Again Sports and Music Go Round.
Livingston says the store is set to open "to buy" — i.e. for Plato's Closet to purchase clothes people bring in and build up inventory — June 8.
"After we buy up enough inventory, we project to have our grand opening — buy and sell — in late July," Livingston says. He says that the store is hiring and will be conducting interviews this weekend.
The Plato's Closet Eugene Facebook page states:
"Folks in Eugene are known for their environmental awareness. In fact, Eugene is recognized as one of the greenest cities in America -- where recycling is a way of life. And very soon, Eugenians will not only be recycling bottles and cans.
Plato's Closet® is all about being fashion savvy and shopping smart. The unique retail recycling store specializes in gently used clothes for teens and twenty somethings — buying and selling the latest looks in clothing and accessories from the hottest brand name designers. Plato's Closet® Eugene will be opening soon at 18th and Willamette -- and here will be the place to recycle your style. Your store, your style, your Plato's Closet®!"
For more info, visit platoscloseteugene.com.
Just heard a vigil will be held tomorrow (Tuesday) for Nepal earthquake victims. Here are the details as we know them:
• Location is the EMU Amphitheater on the UO campus from 7 to 8:30 pm (set up will be at 6 pm, take down from 8:30 to 9 pm).
• Speakers will include students and community members from Nepal, a Nepalese physician from Springfield who is leaving soon to assist with the medical relief effort, city of Eugene Sister City Committee members (Kathmandu and Eugene are sister cities), and possibly a UO student who was on Mount Everest when the earthquake hit (if she returns to Eugene in time).
• After the speakers are done, attendees will be invited to: a) light a candle, b) speak a word or two in condolence or share briefly, c) write a note or sign the event banner, d) donate to a Kathmandurelief.org and details on benefiting relief organization will be provided.
• Find more information at:
I've been down in Mississippi the past couple weeks and couldn't help myself from doing a little "work" while I was there.
More horses affected, one with the "'neurotropic' form of the virus that is far more likely to cause serious, sometimes permanent neurological damage," according to OSU. See the update at the end of this post.
According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University's Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital, a horse in Marion County has been diagnosed with the neurologic form of EHV-1, equine herpes virus, "a naturally occurring virus that can cause serious illness in horses when activated."
Thus far there is no indication the virus has spread. Horses from the same property as the sick horse traveled to an event at the Oregon Horse Center in Eugene and OSU recommends horses that attended the event have their temperatures monitored. According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture press release:
One Marion county horse has been hospitalized after testing positive for the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1). The horse, which has been treated at Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Large Animal Hospital, began showing acute neurologic signs on April 28 and was immediately referred to OSU. The positive EHV-1 diagnosis was made April 29. All horses at the Marion County property have been quarantined.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture reports there is no indication at this time that the virus has spread to other horses beyond those being quarantined. Preliminary epidemiological investigations are underway. In all, there are 20 horses at the Marion County stable. The stable owner and all horse owners have been very cooperative and supportive of the disease control actions taken.
The investigation shows that horses from the affected property have attended recent events held at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Albany on April 16-19, and the Oregon Horse Center in Eugene on April 25-26. While the risk to these horses appears to be low at this time, concerned horse owners are advised to contact their veterinarian.
The OSU vet hospital also issued a press release on the issue with facts on EHV-1. OSU says that this is not the mutated form of the virus but it can still have "serious consequences." OSU suggests checking out the American Association of Equine Practitioners for more information.
No other horses that attended these events have shown clinical signs of EHV-1. Owners of horses that attended these events are encouraged to monitor their horses for any signs of respiratory or neurologic disease. EHV-1 is not transmissible to people.
“This is not the neurotropic or mutated form of the virus, which can really cause problems,” said John Schlipf, a large animal internal medicine specialist with the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. “This form of EHV-1 can still have serious consequences.”
Schlipf said that clinical signs of the neurologic form of EHV-1 often begin with the hind limbs and include:
Uncoordinated, stumbling movements;
An unusual gait;
A weak tail tone;
Difficulty urinating, and dribbling of urine;
Nasal discharge, frequently accompanied by a fever.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture recommends horses that attended the Albany or Eugene events avoid contact with other horses and have their temperatures monitored twice daily. Temperatures over 101.5 degrees may indicate illness.
Horses with signs listed above should be isolated from other animals, and owners should contact their veterinarians immediately. EHV-1 can also affect alpacas and llamas, Schlipf said.
EHV-1 can cause abortions in animals, thus pregnant mares should not co-mingle with horses returning from those shows.
“Horse owners should be aware that although EHV-1 is not transmissible to humans, people can spread the virus on their hands and clothing if in contact with an infected horse,” Schlipf said.
Update from the Oregon Department of Agriculture:
Equine Herpes Virus now detected in four Oregon horses
Four Oregon horses have now tested positive for Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) with two of the horses showing neurological symptoms, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture. It was confirmed last week that a Marion County horse had tested positive for EHV-1 and had developed neurological symptoms. The second horse that developed neurological symptoms resided at a stable in Polk County with about 40 other horses and was taken to the Large Animal Hospital at Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine over the weekend. The Polk County stable has been placed under quarantine and the remaining horses are being monitored by the stable manager and a veterinarian.
In addition to the Polk County stable, two Marion County farms remain under quarantine due to exposure to EHV-1. The infected horses and other horses exposed at the quarantined facilities attended an Oregon High School Equestrian Team (OHSET) meet at the Linn County Fairgrounds on April 16-19. ODA is currently investigating the potential of any additional exposures at this time. In addition, ODA is working to notify owners of horses that have been potentially exposed and has notified Oregon equine veterinarians.
EHV-1 is not transmissible to people. The virus is naturally occurring and widespread in the equine population. It is a common virus and may lie dormant for long periods of time and then re-activate during a period of stress, which can result in clinical disease. EHV-1 can cause respiratory disease, abortions in pregnant mares, neurologic disease, and in severe cases, death. The most common way for EHV-1 to spread is by direct horse-to-horse contact. The virus can also spread through contaminated equipment, clothing, and hands. Symptoms include fever, decreased coordination, nasal discharge, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance, lethargy, and the inability to rise. While there is no cure, the symptoms of the disease may be treatable.
As a reminder, State Veterinarian Dr. Brad LeaMaster advises horse owners to practice strict biosecurity measures and hygiene if they travel to shows and competitions with their animals. Concerned owners should contact their veterinarian if they have questions.
OSU has also weighed in on the latest cases:
More horses found with Equine Herpes Virus, including most serious form
05/05/2015 CORVALLIS, Ore. – Three more cases have been found in Oregon of horses infected with Equine Herpes Virus 1, or EHV-1, and one animal has the most serious “neurotropic” form of the virus that is far more likely to cause serious, sometimes permanent neurological damage.
An initial case of EHV-1 reported last week, and also being treated in isolation at OSU, only had the more common wild strain of the virus. That horse did show neurologic symptoms, although animals with that strain of EHV-1 more often have a disease that causes respiratory infection or abortion in pregnant mares.
Two more cases have been identified of horses with the wild strain, that are not showing signs of neurologic disease, and they are being treated at their home stables in Polk County. Both forms of EHV-1 are highly contagious to horses, but not transmissible to people.
However, a fourth case has been confirmed with the neurotropic form of EHV-1, veterinary experts say, which increases the seriousness of the current outbreak, and makes it increasingly important that horse owners in Oregon practice strong biosecurity management of their animals.
“About 80 percent of the horses who develop neurologic problems from EHV-1 have the neurotropic form of the virus,” said John Schlipf, a large animal internal medicine specialist with the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. “It’s a significantly more serious concern. The disease can be fatal, or it can cause lasting neurologic damage that leaves the animal with a permanently reduced level of function.”
The most recent case was brought to OSU’s Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital from the Salem area. Both cases are being treated in isolation, and all OSU veterinary teaching hospital facilities are open for business as usual.
The initial case last week was in a horse housed in Marion County that had recently attended events at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Albany on April 16-19. Prior to the development of clinical signs in the initial case and institution of the quarantine, horses housed with the initial case had attended an event at the Oregon Horse Center in Eugene on April 25-26. The newest case was not at the Linn County event, Schlipf said, but had been in contact with other horses that attended.
Since there’s a 10-14 day incubation period for this virus, Schlipf said, it is possible that more horses will be found to be infected. Owners of horses that may be at risk are encouraged to monitor their animals closely for a fever and any signs of respiratory or neurologic disease.
More information about the virus and biosecurity recommendations is available online at http://bit.ly/1GNttiS
Early clinical signs of the neurologic form of EHV-1 often begin with the hind limbs and include: Uncoordinated, stumbling movements; An unusual gait; A weak tail tone; Difficulty urinating, and dribbling of urine; Nasal discharge, frequently accompanied by a fever.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture recommends that horses that attended the Albany or Eugene events avoid contact with other horses and have their temperatures monitored twice daily. Temperatures over 101.5 degrees may indicate illness.
Horses with these signs should be isolated from other animals, and owners should contact their veterinarians immediately. EHV-1 can also affect alpacas and llamas, Schlipf said. “We must reiterate the need for horse owners to practice biosecurity,”
Schlipf said. “People handling horses should wash their hands and clothing to reduce spread of a virus. Animals should not share tack, and horses that have traveled or mingled with other animals should be segregated. “All of these steps can help, and are especially important right now. It may be a while yet before we are out of the woods with this outbreak.”
May Day is a traditional day to celebrate workers and unions.
Below is a press release from Honor the Treaty of 1864 delving into the complex issues of salmon, land, water and the Klamath Tribe.
Klamath People, Destructive KBRA Politics and the Spiritual Battle for Water
April 30th, 2015 (Upper Klamath Basin, Oregon)
The Klamath Basin riddled with complex water issues, has yet another aspect few are aware of.
The Klamath people, their culture and spirituality are at high risk, with politics taking priority over individual tribal members inherent rights and the rights of resources and species that are integral to their Indigenous lifestyle.
In an article written by Andrea Smith in April 2013, she offers us insight into varying perspectives on the definition of sovereignty.
"Whereas nation-states are governed through domination and coercion, Indigenous sovereignty and nationhood is predicated on interrelatedness and responsibility."
As Sharon Venne explains, "Our spirituality and our responsibilities define our duties. We understand the concept of sovereignty as woven through a fabric that encompasses our spirituality and responsibility.
This is a cyclical view of sovereignty, incorporating it into our traditional philosophy and view of our responsibilities. It differs greatly from the concept of Western sovereignty which is based upon absolute power.
For us absolute power is in the Creator and the natural order of all living things; not only in human beings...
Our sovereignty is related to our connections to the earth and is inherent."
Although a government entity may be tribal, unfortunately does not mean they are advocates for the environment, spirituality or their people.
The controversial Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and associated documents do not appropriately advocate for resources that are necessary for the survival of Klamath, Modoc, Yahooskin culture and have also proven to be damaging to personal relationships within the tribe.
Many tribal members no longer have contact with family and close friends over divisive and destructive KBRA politics.
Others have been denied tribal employment based solely on their stance regarding the dubious Klamath Basin water agreements.
The Klamath tribal council and "water team", otherwise known as the Klamath Tribes negotiation team (KTNT), claim the KBRA and associated agreements are a reconciliation to help heal old wounds within the Basin.
Contrary to these claims made by elected officials, tribal members are seeing anything but healing.
Water is a necessity for the survival of Klamath culture and spirituality. And as other parties to the agreements needs are met, the Klamath people and their concerns have been continuously neglected.
Last Saturday, April 25th 2015, the Klamath Tribes held a "special" general council meeting that was a closed session in Chiloquin, OR. More than 100 tribal members were in attendance.
According to attendees, not one person stood up and spoke in support of the water agreements. Once again, many tribal members vocalized the desire to withdraw from the KBRA and associated agreements entirely.
The following Tuesday the Herald and News, a publication in Klamath Falls, Oregon, released statements from Chairman Donald Gentry regarding Saturdays meeting that was supposed to remain "confidential".
According to the Herald and News, Chairman Gentry said he is "hopeful discussions and legislation will keep moving forward."
Gentry continues to claim that, "although a replacement parcel for the Mazama Forest hasn’t been identified, members have not indicated that the Tribes should pull out of the complex water agreement. To do so, the tribes have to proceed with an agreement termination process, and no such motion was made."
General Council meetings commence at 10 am and frequently do not adjourn until 5 pm or after. By the afternoon, it is not uncommon for the General Council to lose a quorum, which consists of 50 enrolled members of the Klamath Tribes (over the age of 18) or more.
Meeting attendees state that a motion to proceed with an agreement termination process was not made due to a loss of a quorum in the afternoon. The meeting was in a closed session which also limits the actions members can take.
In the wake of the loss of the Mazama Tree Farm land acquisition, draft legislation is now being proposed by Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to acquire a new parcel in a desperate attempt to keep the Klamath Tribes signed onto the KBRA.
The potential parcels under consideration are currently part of the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Wyden and Merkley are allegedly working to gain the support of Congressman Greg Walden. Without republican backing, new land acquisition and these water agreements cannot proceed.
A conservation organization known as Oregon Wild who represents approximately 15,000 members and supporters of Oregon have been concerned about the environmental impacts of the KBRA. They have advocated for the wildlife refuges that have been neglected by the Bureau of Reclamation and signatory tribes, among other resources that are not properly represented within these agreements.
The wildlife refuges and marshlands, which were once parts of the former Klamath reservation (pre-termination), are gathering areas for basket making materials, as well as home to one of the main traditional food staples of the Klamath people, Wocus.
Bald eagles take refuge in these areas along with migratory birds that also utilize these areas on their seasonal flight routes.
Due to over consumption by the agricultural industry, we are not only witnessing fish kills from artificially low water flows but also bird kills and the rapid spread of diseases amongst various species.
The KBRA secures water primarily for agricultural purposes, meanwhile neglecting other resources that are in desperate need for advocacy.
Though the Klamath Tribes Treaty of 1864 is supposed to protect these other resources, Klamath tribal negotiators have turned a blind eye to resources that are vital to the continuance of Klamath culture and spirituality.
An article published by the Oregonian last Friday stated "Oregon Wild opposes the sale, citing worries about diminished public access and concerns that tribal ownership could result in logging and other industry-related habitat loss."
Oregon Wild Conservation Director Steve Pedery states "There was a tremendous mistake made in the 1950s, but the problem is 60 years have passed and this forest today has value for a tremendous range of things from ecological reasons to economic and recreational ones,"
Though the Klamath Tribes do have a Forest Management plan that was drafted in 2008, when asked how the tribes propose to manage a new parcel of land for economic development the only statements that have been given include logging and constructing a mill.
Statements such as these can be viewed as problematic to individuals who would like to see the environment and resources protected.
As previously stated, just because a government entity is tribal unfortunately does not imply they are environmental advocates or defenders.
In 1996 the Coquille Tribe was given 5,100 acres of former ancestral land. The 5,100 acre Coquille Forest, in Oregon's Coastal Mountain Range, had been Coos Bay BLM land. It was given to the tribe to manage under the same environmental laws as the BLM's public lands. The lands have since been clearcut by the tribe for economic development.
Klamath Tribal chairman Donald Gentry has made recent statements to tribal membership and the public abroad, using divisive language to portray Oregon Wild as "adversarial" to the tribes.
Oregon Wild Executive Director Sean Stevens submitted a letter to Klamath Tribes tribal council on April 22nd, 2015 regarding the proposed land transfer.
Contrary to Gentry's claims, the letter on behalf of Oregon Wild's 15,000 members and supporters, respectfully outlines the various reasons why Oregon Wild cannot support this particular land transfer but still offers alternative options and support.
Their reasons for not supporting the land transfer include loss of public access and recreation, lack of public oversight, removal of environmental safeguards, and desire to maintain America's public lands network.
Stevens continues to state, "while we are deeply concerned about proposals to dispose of Fremont-Winema National Forest lands, Oregon Wild remains supportive of The Klamath Tribes efforts to re-establish a land base, restore fish and wildlife, and develop sustainable economic opportunities.
We believe there are a number of other possibilities that would help advance these goals that should be given priority over the transfer of American public lands out of public ownership."
Alternatives for this particular land transfer include acquisition of private lands, co-operative management, preference in contracting, and a tribal restoration fund.
Stevens concludes by stating, "Oregon Wild recognizes the ugly history of the federal policy of tribal termination, and the role it played in the establishment of some portions of the Fremont-Winema National Forest and Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.
However, we believe the removal of some or all of the National Forest from America’s public lands system would create unnecessary and unproductive conflict. There are better and more attainable ways for The Klamath Tribes to achieve a land base, environmental restoration, and economic self-sufficiency.
Though we have at times been in conflict over the disposal of the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Oregon Wild and The Klamath Tribes have a long history of working together for the betterment of the Klamath Basin’s fish and wildlife resources, public lands, and waters.
We stand ready to work with the Tribes again to resolve the land base issue without removing the Fremont-Winema from America’s system of public lands."
The full letter is available to view online here.
In an e-blast sent April 28th, 2015 by Klamath Tribes public information and news manager Taylor Tupper-David, Klamath Tribal council and the "water team" endorsed a letter from alleged tribal member David Hill of Portland to representatives of Oregon Wild.
This letter and endorsement has since been posted to the Klamath Tribes website and shared on the Klamath Tribes Official social media page for public view.
Hills letter contains contentious language, that many believe to be counterproductive to healthy relations with others outside and within the tribe.
Hill's letter states, "I see the problem is that Oregon Wild fails to see the huge environmental justice issue here. Are you really willing to join a sordid list of Euro-American transgressions against the original inhabitants of this land? It looks like you are. You are pitching in with "volunteers" who hunted the Indians like animals in the 1800s, with "settlers" who stole their lands, with "government" thugs who continued to steal and sell their land, e.
If you continue with this extremely insensitive stance, you are putting your credibility at great risk. It is unacceptable for the dominant white culture to continue screwing and stealing and standing in the way of tribes, and it is unacceptable that Oregon Wild would join in this long and nauseating, immoral pattern.
To not let them (the tribe) hold and manage these lands sustainably is a great racist act. Please do not be part of it."
The accusatory, inflammatory language found in Hill's letter can be extremely damaging to relationships that could help provide solutions to some of these complex issues. And the fact that this letter is endorsed by the Klamath Tribal council and "water team" is even further disturbing, unprofessional, and unproductive.
"Conservation groups and tribes with the same focus and missions of restoring and protecting lands should not be pit against each other.
This is yet another divisive move in the favor of the US Government to not be accountable for termination era practices that have resulted in loss of our subsistence lands and treaty resources.
Subsequently, these practices have resulted in the destruction of our river ways and ecosystem."
-David M. Ochoa, Klamath Tribal member
Last week a water call was made by the Klamath Tribes. Their call will help habitat in the Sprague, Wood and Sycan rivers and it will briefly raise the Upper Klamath Lake level before the Klamath Irrigation District diverts it at the A canal.
To the extent suckers are up in the tributaries, the call may help them.
However, the call will not help salmon or the wildlife refuges.
Ironically, the Klamath Tribes will be participating in a 260 mile run for the salmon that will conclude in Chiloquin on June 1st.
In the fall of 2002, 68,000 salmon died from artificially low water levels in the Klamath River.
In response to the devastating Klamath fish kill, to raise awareness of the plight of the salmon and promote health within their community, youth of Hoopa Valley and the Yurok Tribe at Hoopa Valley High School began the Great Salmon Run of the Klamath and Trinity Rivers on May 27th 2005. The original run began at the mouth of the Klamath River and ended at the south fork of the Trinity.
The run is completed in two mile segments. Each person who participates contributes two miles while carrying a baton in the shape of a salmon.
"The salmon's struggles are our struggles. For that short little run we take on their struggle."
"A lot of people may have read newspapers or may have seen the pictures.
That speaks for itself, but in the same sense you need to know the facts behind that.
You need to know what caused it so that it can be prevented."
-Erika Chase, Salmon run co-founder
From the beginning, participants have acknowledged spiritual practices and places alongside the activity of running. For instance, at the conclusion of the run, a salmon is ceremonially cooked and then eaten by designated persons.
Remembering former First Salmon ceremonies, eaters commit to not eating salmon for a year as medicine for the continuance of the salmon.
Statements made by Chairman Gentry regarding the state of the Klamath salmon claim that having the salmon gone has hurt the tribes economically because they have to buy salmon instead of fish for it.
However, the Klamath Tribes are actually struggling economically due to financial mismanagement within the tribal government.
Though Klamath people have not seen salmon in the Upper Klamath Basin in almost 100 years, the people continue to barter with tribes down river to maintain a connection to salmon in the basin. This also helps strengthen relationships between tribal communities along the river, as it has historically always been.
Unfortunately, the Klamath Tribes involvement in this years salmon run is merely for political advocacy. Tribal elected officials have been manipulating the original spiritual intention of the salmon run to gain support for Senate Bill 133, the KBRA, and associated documents.
It is disconcerting to witness the commercialization of a spiritual ceremony for political purposes.
"As a co-founder of the Salmon Run, I am for dam removal and against the KBRA.
I would feel bad if someone felt they couldn’t participate because of any particular runner or coordinator’s stance on the KBRA.
The run was founded by youth of different tribes in response to the fish kill in 2002 before the KBRA, and has also always supported non-Indian participation as well."
-Kayla Carpenter, Salmon run co-founder and Hoopa Valley tribal member
The KBRA does nothing to heal historical and spiritual damages for Klamath, Modoc, Yahooskin people. By securing water primarily for agricultural purposes, the KBRA and associated documents perpetuate these damages and continue to inflict pain, trauma and division amongst our people.
As we enter into the summer drought season, there are many issues that defenders of our sacred water must prepare for and endure.
These issues are political, but most importantly spiritual.
The fight to defend our sacred water, our life source, is above all else a spiritual battle.
Outside forces will try to divide us, discourage us, and break our spirits.
But as tribal members and descendants of the Klamath Tribes, we refuse to tolerate, support or indulge in divisive language, behavior and actions.
The fate of our sacred water is in our hands.
Without our sacred water, we cease to be a people.
Honor The Treaty of 1864 is a group of like minded individuals who want to honor our ancestors and our 7th generation by protecting our resources and our rights. While these ideas are not new and many people before us stood for the same things we do, our group was officially formed in 2014. We welcome all people who support our cause.
We have some great locally grown food here in the Willamette valley. Paired with some top notch innovative chefs and a thriving fermentation culture it an exciting time to be a food lover in Eugene. Here is a look at a fantastic dinner that took place Monday at Party Downtown with wonderful German and Belgian beer chosen by Beer Steward and friendly Bier Stein bottle librarian Aaron Brussat.