First Nations’ Call for Columbia River Dam Removal… ‘Restore The Salmon!’

Jay Julius, chairman of the Lummi Nation (l) and JoDe Goudy, chairman of the Yakama Nation (r) call for dam removal. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

The Bonneville, John Day, and The Dalles dams churn out enough electricity to power more than 2 million Pacific Northwest homes annually and provide an important inland navigation route for commercial goods.

The Nations’ call for main-stem dam removal and teardown of dams in the Columbia River following the successful Elwha Dam removal on the Olympic Peninsula and the abundant return of native species, including salmon and beaver, has only intensified the long-running debate.   This year, in particular, appears to be a climatic tipping point for tribes, fishermen, as well as, endangered southern resident orcas that rely on chinook salmon from the river.  Some fish runs are at 13 percent of their 10-year averages. No “June Hog” Chinook salmon (>100 lbs), once famous, have been caught in over 50 years.

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 7.21.44 PMAstoria, Oregon “June Hogs” (1910)


Jay Julius, chairman of the Lummi Nation, and JoDe Goudy, chairman of the Yakama Nation, gathered — on Indigenous Peoples Day — at Celilo Village, all that is left of the fishing and cultural center at Celilo Falls, the most productive salmon fishery in the world for some 11,000 years. The falls were drowned beneath the reservoir of The Dalles Dam in 1957.



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