State officials are the first in the nation to find funds to fulfill the federal government’s promise to compensate tribes for displacement.
Merkley and Rep. Earl Blumenauer were on their way to Lone Pine, where about 40 members of the Yakama, Warm Springs, Umatilla and Nez Perce tribes live without ready access to electricity, despite being in the shadow of The Dalles dam.
Earlier this month, The Oregonian/Oregonlive detailed how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers still haven’t fulfilled promises to provide housing for tribal members more than 80 years after flooding their traditional villages to create three Columbia River dams. Many sites are unsafe, unclean and lack facilities for year-round living. Yet the tribes try to fish and live there, as they have for thousands of years.
“We were both thinking about the power of the mighty salmon that were able to attack and defeat the falls,” Blumenauer said. “We’ve got to be like these salmon at Celilo and not give up until these promises are fulfilled.”
(READ MORE: Oregon Live)
Tribes across the nation and the federal government recently reached a $1 billion restitution settlement. More than $204 million will go to Northwest tribes in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, according to OPB.