KWSO News for Fri., Nov. 18, 2022

A major milestone was passed on Thursday (11/17) in the effort to decommission four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allowed the utility PacifiCorp (PACIFI-CORP) to turn them over to a nonprofit that will begin removing them next year. Frankie Joe Myers is the vice chair of the Yurok (YER-ok) Tribe in Northern California. His tribe and others in the area have been advocating for the dams to be taken out for two decades to protect salmon and other fish. “Today is a good day. Today is the day we fought 20 years for and we’re here, we’re going to start work. Everyone is very excited.” The dams have resulted in large numbers of fish dying because of toxic algae blooms and parasites that grow in warm water. The first dam could come out as soon as next year with the other three scheduled to be removed in 2024. The river will then be the site of a large-scale environmental restoration project.

For the first time in three years, a commemorative pow-wow for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz [sill-EHTZ] Indians is coming back this weekend (SATURDAY.) KLCC’s Brian Bull reports. “This year’s Restoration Pow-Wow marks 45 years since Congress and President Carter reinstated the Siletz as a federally-recognized tribe. The last pow-wow was in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Oregon. Robert Kentta is the tribe’s Cultural Resources Director. He says before federal termination in 1954, the Siletz had already seen Congress reduce their land base from over a million acres to just a few thousand. Robert Kentta: “So we had a very quick diminishment of a once large and resource-rich reservation. Kind of the final straw was termination policy rolling around in the late 40s and 50s. And here in the Siletz community there was probably a certain amount of, ‘Terminate what? You’ve almost taken everything that we have.’” The Siletz have since regrown their reservation base to 16-thousand acres. Kentta says many tribal members are looking forward to socializing again, as they celebrate the restoration of their status and sovereignty. I’m Brian Bull reporting in Eugene.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering challenges to a law enacted in 1978 to respond to the alarming rate at which Native American and Alaska Native children were being removed from their homes by public and private agencies. The U.S. Supreme Court now has taken up challenges to the law three times — in 1989, 2013 and 2022. The current case is the most significant because it raises questions of equal protection under the Constitution. The justices heard three hours of arguments Nov. 9 and appear likely to leave most of the law in place. The law includes a severability clause, which means parts of it can be struck down while keeping the rest intact. The high court isn’t expected to rule in the case until next summer. Lower courts have split on the case. The Indian Child Welfare Act, known as ICWA, has long been championed by tribal leaders as a means to preserving their families, traditions and cultures. The law requires states to notify tribes in certain foster care and adoption proceedings involving Native American children who are or could be enrolled in any of the 574 federally recognized tribes. Placement preference is given to the child’s extended family, members of the child’s tribe or other Native American families, but it doesn’t prevent placement with non-Native families.

KWSO Weather for Central Oregon:

  • Mostly Sunny today with patchy freezing fog before 11am and a high near 38 degrees
  • Tonight Partly Cloudy with patchy freezing fog after 11pm and a low around 8
  • Mostly Sunny tomorrow with patchy freezing fog before 11am and a high near 43 degrees
  • Partly Sunny on Sunday with patchy freezing fog before 11am and a high of 46 degrees