Jewell, State of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, State of California
Governor Jerry Brown, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Senator Jeff
Merkley, Klamath Tribes elected officials and Klamath Basin irrigators
held a “celebratory” signing of the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive
Agreement last Friday at Collier Park, 4 miles north of Chiloquin. With
strong support from Senator Wyden, he stated *“I am going to introduce in
the first few days of May, legislation in partnership with Senator Merkley
to make this agreement law.”*
But the “celebration” was not held without opposition. Members and
descendants of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin tribes came together to
object to the UKBCA stating that tribal membership had less than a month
to review the 93 page document. Tribal Council only allowed 19 days from the
mailing of the ballots by the election company to the deadline for return.
Although their addresses are current and updated, a large portion of
membership either did not receive a ballot or did not did receive a ballot
in time to cast a vote before the deadline. Therefore, membership feels
proper voting procedure was not implemented and they did not have adequate
time to make an informed decision in the referendum vote, which had a
deadline of April 9th 2014 postmarked by 9 am.
“To me this is a violation of the code of ethics that the Tribal Council
signed at the beginning of their term. They showed no moral principal with
this act. I hope they can live with themselves after they have ignored
their membership,” said a Klamath Tribal member who wished to remain anonymous.
Tribal members also stated that this agreement does not reflect the
cultural values that they would like to see included in any agreement that
brings their Treaty rights into discussion. Tribal membership did not have
any direct involvement in the negotiation process and feel that Klamath
tribal elected officials do not retain the sovereign authority to make
decisions on behalf of the entire tribal membership.
Those in opposition to the agreement held signs stating “water is life”,
“no more KBRA lies” and “my council does not speak for me”
As signatories took their place to sign the agreement, tribal members moved
to the front of the crowd to deliver a written testimony and to publicly
state why they were not in agreement with the proposed piece of
While the signing took place, a Klamath Tribes descendant burned a copy of
the UKBCA to symbolize tribal membership’s disdain for the agreement.
Tribal members were not given adequate time to make an informed decision
and less than one third of eligible voting membership cast a ballot to
grant signatory authority to Klamath Chairman Don Gentry. Many believe as
a result, the outcome of the referendum is not reflective of overall enrolled
members’ opinions, and therefore is inconclusive.
A statement released by the Hupa Tribe from Northern California criticizes
the agreement stating it “surrenders their tribal rights for water and
Commissioners from Klamath and Siskiyou County were not in attendance,
though they will be impacted by any agreement on the Klamath River. They
say they consider this a “surrender” or a “sell-out.”