From The Oregonian
The group’s enemies, Thinn said, are oil-factory modules moving up the Columbia River, across the states of Idaho and Montana, and into Canada’s oil sands, where Imperial Oil, a subsidiary of Exxon-Mobil, will assemble the 207 massive components into in an $8 billion oil operation. Imperial plans to strip mine tarlike bitumen from the ground and convert it into petroleum through a complicated, energy-consumptive process.
The Native American ceremony was an act of protest against the Imperial megaloads and all they represent – scarring of the landscape, the threat of pollution, destruction of salmon-rich rivers and the loss of a way of life. The gathering at Kelley Point Park was the first known organized protest of the megaloads in the Portland area, although protests have raged for months in Montana and Idaho, where tribal leaders held a similar event Sunday.
This is a good demonstration of the competing interests we find in Indian Country across the United States. The story is the same: Native American interests are ignored, their very way of sustaining themselves destroyed, and are then (see the comments section of the article) blamed for relying on state, federal and tribal funded welfare and assistance to survive.
In the case of the Columbia River, protecting salmon runs and American Indian interests will be a an uphill battle that will depend on a large coalition of environmentalists. The Pacific Northwest is largely controlled by the US and State Governments. In Tlingit Country, however, we, the Tlingit, are the dominant population living on or near some of North America’s largest and most resource rich rivers. To further protect our Tlingit interest in these regions we have allies among the white population, perhaps even including in-state sport and commercial fishermen. But more important, we have a home field advantage.