Native Groups Want in on Convervation of River Treaty

May 27, 2014

When the Columbia River treaty was signed back in 1964, Native American tribes were not consulted. Now, several tribal officials are asking that that they be included in negotiations to renew the treaty.

The Columbia River Treaty of 1964 sets down how power generation and flood control will be handled between the US and Canada. But Native American tribes were left out of those negotiations.

Colville Tribal council member John Sirous says the main issue is the plight of endangered salmon was not considered when the treaty was signed. He says they hope to change that by issuing a declaration that calls on the US State Department to include tribes in the implementation of a new treaty, as well as managing the river to deal with a changing climate.

Sirous: “How this new Columbia river treaty can be managed to include a new ecosystem based function, and its beneficial to all people not just tribes, and animals and salmon, all those things.”

Sirous says there is new emerging technology that can be used to help migrating salmon that have been prevented from gaining access to the upper Columbia river, especially after Grand Coulee Dam was completed in the early 1940’s.

The U.S. and Canada have an option to renegotiate the 50 year old treaty this fall.

Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio.