Environment | Opinion

André Cramblit: Water is life for salmon and tribes in California too






The Yurok Tribe's 54th annual Klamath Salmon Festival did not include a salmon lunch due to low salmon runs in northern California. Photo: Yurok Tribe

"Water is Life" is the rallying cry of the #NoDAPL movement. André Cramblit, a member of the Karuk Tribe, explains why the message resonates for tribes in northern California that depend on salmon for subsistence:
Global climate change is no longer a mere scientific debate between right and left politicos. It is here and it is impacting us all. For the first time in the 54-year history of the event called the Yurok Tribe’s Salmon festival had NO salmon, (NDN Taco Festival just doesn’t have the same ring to it). Similarly, the 35th annual Intertribal Gathering and Elder’s Dinner was not able to serve their traditional meal of alder smoked salmon due to the degradation of the entire Klamath River watershed.

Poor management of the Klamath River by the U.S. Government has decimated this mainstay of nourishment for the tribal nations in this region. The reduced water flows of the past few summers in combination with the run-off of agricultural pesticides and algae-producing fertilizers have led to a rise in the death rate of juvenile Coho salmon, which in turn decreases the return of adult salmon to their home streams. Truly, all things are connected.

The Yurok Tribe had to make a hard decision to eliminate a commercial fishing season this year in response to the aquatic crisis. In an area that is severely economically depressed, this was a bold political decision indeed. The government limited the non-commercial catch to one fish per person in each household. It was a heavy blow, compounded by the close of the only regional supermarket on one section of the Yurok reservation. In a short time, the term “food sovereignty” becomes a much more salient term.

Read More on the Story:
André Cramblit: Water Is Life…for the Salmon and for the Karuk (Indian Country Today 12/22)

Related Stories:
Yurok Tribe focuses on removal of dams for annual salmon festival (08/19)
Yurok Tribe shares sad news about salmon festival -- no salmon (07/22)