Magazine article Insight on the News

Water Warriors: Farmers, Indians and Greenies in the Klamath Valley Are Arguing over [H.Sub.2]O. (Public Policy)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Water Warriors: Farmers, Indians and Greenies in the Klamath Valley Are Arguing over [H.Sub.2]O. (Public Policy)

Article excerpt

Racism and a lack of leadership are preventing the resolution of a Western water war, according to a draft report by Oregon State University and the University of California. The report, which has outraged many California and Oregon residents, was initiated after the federal government cut off irrigation water to hundreds of farmers in the Klamath Valley to protect the endangered sucker fish and coho salmon (see, "Federal Fish Rules Hook Other Fauna," Oct. 1, 2001).

The Klamath Indian tribes view the fish as sacred gifts and banded with environmental groups to turn off the spigots. Angry farmers reacted to the water shut-off last summer by forcing open the canal system on several occasions. Federal marshals were called in to guard the headgates. Crops and livestock were lost and many farms went bankrupt.

The report, under review, described an atmosphere of "farmers vs. Indians" and noted that a strain of racism is running "quietly beneath the surface." Tribal members have reported being shunned or "treated badly" and say fund raising for Indian events has dropped dramatically.

Critics of the report claim racism is not a factor. "A lot of farmers are upset that this is how this is being characterized, but it's not race -- it's a simple matter of having no water and seeing the family farms slip away from them," says Dan Keppen, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association. According to Keppen, the racism hype is seeded in one event that occurred Dec. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.