Photo by Karen Saró Troeger
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wanapum Fishing People against Nestle:
NESTLE WATER BATTLE CONTINUES
Tribal members speak out at City Council meeting
April 18th 2016 (Cascade Locks, Oregon)
Monday April 11th a meeting took place at the Cascade Locks Town Hall and members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon arrived on short notice in traditional longhouse dress to fiercely defend the waters of our home, the Columbia River.
The Cascade Locks city council voted against a resolution [6-1] that would have prevented Nestle International Waters from having rights to Oxbow Springs, the headwaters of Herman Creek. The Cascade Locks city council officially endorsed Nestle to open a water bottling facility in the Locks.
Ballot Measure 14-55 is an initiative to ban large-scale commercial water bottling operations in Hood River County. The measure, promoted by the Cascade Locks-based Local Water Alliance, will be voted on in the upcoming primary on May 17th 2016.
Many younger tribal members who still exercise their treaty rights to fish on the Columbia River spoke out in an eloquent, passionate and heartfelt opposition to Nestle’s water bottling facility.
“Look at me and see I’m worried. You should be worried too. Nestle’s going to come in here and destroy us. Don’t let that happen,” stated Whitney Jackson a tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon.
“Oxbow Springs, Herman creek is the coldest tributary that goes into the Columbia River. The salmon really depend on that water to make their journey upstream. We know that water is becoming a scarce resource and we all depend on it. Our people do bring business here [to Cascade Locks]. Our people have been doing trade and commerce here on this river for over 10,000 years, since time immemorial,” expressed Shayleen Macy, enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon.
Herman Creek, an important place for migrating fish populations, provides a cool water refuge and is a tributary to the Columbia River. The headwaters of Herman Creek, known as Oxbow Springs, is in the ceded treaty territory of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon as outlined in the Mid-Columbia River Treaty of 1855.
In 2008 Nestle International Waters approached the city of Cascade Locks in hopes of purchasing the water rights to bottle and sell this pristine, priceless resource under their “Arrowhead” brand name.
Water rights to the spring are currently owned by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) for the operation of the Oxbow Springs Fish Hatchery which provides significant numbers to the local fisheries population and economy.
Last May, Austin Greene Jr. the current Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon sent a letter to the newly appointed Governor Kate Brown requesting she prompt ODFW to withdraw the application for water transfer with the City of Cascade Locks.
According to an article published July 2015 in the Portland Mercury, Greene’s letter stated, "Water quantity and quality and hatchery operations are of paramount importance to ongoing treaty-based rights of the Tribe in the Columbia River area and to ongoing federal litigation," the letter reads. "These factors are not only reasonable to evaluate but of critical importance for ODFW's proposed water transfer, particularly in the context of climate change… and more frequent droughts and/or dry years."
Orvie Danzuka Councilman for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs expressed his support for the resolution, "YES on 14-55 to honor 1855. The Treaty of 1855 guaranteed access to our usual and accustomed places, this [Herman Creek/Oxbow Springs] being one of them. Something like this could have a severe detrimental effect on our first food [salmon]. We want to be in line to make sure this doesn’t happen.”
NO NESTLE in Oxbow Spring (k'uup waniitch) Appreciation Dinner and Giveaway with speakers and updates- Saturday April 23rd 2-5 pm at the Celilo Longhouse on the Columbia River.
“The Wanapum Fishing People against Nestle want to thank the Gorge groups and environmental organizations for protecting Oxbow Spring from Nestle for SEVEN YEARS before the tribes became aware and took a stand.”
With unprecedented fish kills and extreme drought conditions in our state this last year we cannot afford to allow grossly wealthy water bottlers to scheme their way into stealing our local water supplies for their private profits.
In the battle against water privatization, Tribal treaty rights may be a saving grace to protecting public water supplies.
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“at the time of creation the Creator placed us in this land and He gave us the voice of this land and that is our law."
Photo by Blue Ackerman