« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Del Ponte, Harold, letter of June 1979, to Hon. John Breaux.
Dougherty, Nancy L., letter of May 30, 1979, to Hon. John B. Breaux
Kehr, Robert, Letter of May 25, 1979, to Congressman
Tindal, Shirley J., letter of May 27, 1979, to Hon. John B. Breaux
KLAMATH RIVER INDIAN FISHING RIGHTS
MONDAY, MAY 21, 1979
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES
AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:12 a.m., in room 1334 Longworth House Office Building, Hon. John B. Breaux (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Breaux, Bonker, and McCloskey.
Mr. BREAUX. The Subcommittee on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment will please come to order.
This morning, the Subcommittee on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment meets to follow up hearings held last Congress on a serious salmon conservation problem on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers in northern California.
The Klamath River controversy dates back to the mid-19th century, with the enactment of the California Reservations Act in 1864. Under that act and a series of Executive orders, the Federal Government created what is now one Indian reservation extending along the lower 50 miles of the Klamath River. This reservation includes two separate tribes, the Yuroks and the Hoopas. These tribes have exercised traditional fishing rights on these rivers for generations. The Klamath and Trinity Rivers have also supported an active sport fishery.
Last year, however, serious concern was expressed by Indians and non-Indians alike that the level of fishing on the river, by all concerned, and the lack of any significant regulation of fishing on the river, was threatening the salmon resource which everyone is interested in conserving.
Partly as a result of efforts by this subcommittee, the Department of the Interior initiated efforts to protect the salmon resource without violating legitimate Indian fishing rights. The State of California also initiated efforts to restrict the sport catch on the river. Efforts have also been made to restrict the level of ocean fishing which significantly reduces the number of fish available to assure conservation of the salmon runs.
The Klamath River controversy has become further complicated this year because this year's stocks are lower than normal due to the drought conditions in California several years ago. Any longterm protection for the salmon resource is going to require cooperation by all of the parties concerned and careful management of the resource for some time in the future.
I want to add that the subcommittee will be traveling to California this coming weekend in order to get firsthand information on this problem.
I would like to call on the ranking minority member of the full committee for any opening comments he might have, and also to welcome to our subcommittee our good friend from the area where this problem is graphically located, Congressman Don Clausen. We appreciate all the help he has given in these hearings.
At this time I recognize my good friend from California, Mr. McCloskey.
Mr. MCCLOSKEY. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for holding these hearings at the request of Don Clausen and myself so we could get a thorough hearing before the summer salmon season starts on the Klamath River. The issues, both practical and historical, led to near violence last summer. It was Don Clausen's request to the Secretary of Interior that a moratorium be placed on the Indian commercial salmon fishery last summer which the Secretary declined, but which has been honored this summer. Nevertheless, there are conflicts that may arise this year and certainly will rise in the future if the Congress does not act to clear up the ambiguities which have arisen in the situation.
The Klamath River, which constitutes perhaps 1 percent of the commercial salmon fishery of the west coast, has traditionally been a sports fishing river as well, dating from 1933 when the people of the State of California, through an initiative measure, passed into law a requirement that there be no commercial fishing of any kind on the Klamath.
That situation pertained until 1973 when the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the right of an Indian, Raymond Mattz, to use gill nets to fish on the Klamath. Mr. Mattz at that time was subsistence fishing with gill nets, but it raised the contention that the Bureau of Indian Affairs has since taken that Indians were entitled to fish commercially with gill nets for salmon on the Klamath River.
That leaves us with basically several issues: (1) whether or not the commercial use of gill nets in the lower part of the Klamath is to be permitted and, if so, by whom; (2) whether the Federal Government or the State of California shall control fishing practices both on and off the reservation since the reservation covers less than a third of the total watershed of the Klamath; (3) whether the BIA, representing Indian rights, and the Department of Commerce, regulating fishing in the deep ocean, are in conflict; and (4) it raises a question as to priorities between Indians' subsistence fishing, sportsfishing by all citizens, and commercial fishing by anyone, but in this case only Indians because of the California initiative mentioned previously.
In addition, there are the conflicts between the various Indian factions on the reservation, the Hoopas in Hoopa Square, the Yuroks on the extension, and others. The majority of Indians indicated to us they do not want any commercial fishing either, but there are some 70 to 100 Indians who last summer engaged profitably in commercial fishing, and BIA upheld their right to do so.
Finally, there is the question underlying this controversy of the Jessie Short case. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is pushing for the organization of a Yurok Tribe, but the individual Yurok plaintiffs in the case feel it will prejudice their legal position in their case and their right to individual payments of money if they organize into a tribal organization.
That situation is further compounded by the Justice Department, which takes a different position in this whole situation. I am satisfied that Secretary Andrus and Assistant Secretary Gerard have acted honorably, but they bear a stigma of what appears to be BIA neglect and changes of position with respect to the various Indian tribes along the Klamath. It was 1952, as I recall, when the BIA took the position there were two reservations, and the court of appeals ruled 6 years ago that it was a single reservation.
It is hard to detect any change in the BIA attitude at least until this year, and that 6 years of attitude has left its scars on the Indian community. It may very well be that Congress will have to resolve by legislation the ambiguities that have arisen.
I want to thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for holding these hearings. I want to thank Congressman Clausen who has really educated me on this subject and whose call for a moratorium, if it had been honored a year ago, might have spared us the embarrassing situation that we faced last summer.
Mr. BREAUX. Congressman Clausen, do you have any comments?
Congressman Clausen is the ranking minority member on the full Interior Committee. It would be very helpful to have your views.
Mr. CLAUSEN. Thank you.
Because of the condition of my voice this morning I will make my remarks very brief. I just want to extend to you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. McCloskey, my thanks and commendation for interesting yourself in this highly complex subject because of the potential problems that could exist. In the prior requests for a moratorium on commercial fishing on the Klamath, and the reason I ask for this is that the pressures on that fishery resource are such that we need to do something to preserve the resource itself. But even more importantly, I think this is the most significant thing—is to develop a statistical base upon which a group of individuals could arrive at a specific recommendation in addressing the conservation and resource management program that will sustain that resource for the benefit of all. Because if we are not successful in that regard everyone is going to be the loser.
I will not prolong my comments this morning.
Mr. BREAUX. I thank the gentleman and look forward to visiting his district this coming weekend.
Congressman Davis has had similar problems. It becomes more and more apparent to the chairman of the committee that Indian fishing problems are not uncommon. We have them in Michigan, in the Northwest, we have them in California. I guess maybe unfortunately because of a lack of knowledge, the Chair does not have these particular problems in his congressional district, and maybe I can be a little more aggressive in helping to solve these problems.
Mr. Davis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wish to make a few comments. I appreciate the opportunity to bring this very important matter to the public's attention especially in other areas of the country where, as you indicated, they do not have the problem. This matter is one of the most serious problems that I have in my district. I represent a huge district in Michigan which includes many areas of the Great Lakes, and we have had problems with a number of tribes, due to treaties that have existed for many years. I think Congress should definitely take a serious look at this situation.
A recent decision by a Federal judge has added to the problem. The judge ruled in favor of the Indians in this particular case. I would suggest that the committee might take a look at a bill that I have introduced which I think would address the problem.
I won't go into detail as to what the bill does, but basically it says that under treaties both on and off reservations we would grant to each State the authority to regulate fishing by Indians. In other words, it says that in States where they thought that depletion of the stock was going to cause a serious problem with that natural resource they could limit fishing activities.
In Michigan we feel that we are long past the time when we should do something to cut off the rights of the Indians to fish with gill nets because they have depleted the valuable stocks of lake trout in many prime fishing areas. I am pleased we are having this hearing even though it does not specifically relate to the problem we have in Michigan. It is not unlike Michigan's problem, and I think when we address this we should include the problems in all the States where the question of Indian fishing rights exists and arrive at a just decision for the American public to protect a very valuable natural resource.
Mr. BREAUX. I thank the gentleman for his comments.
I would ask the first panel to take their seats at the table. I welcome Hon. Forrest Gerard, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior; Mr. Gaylen Buterbaugh, Associate Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior; and Mr. Sanford Sagalkin, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Land and Natural Resources Division, Department of Justice. We will take you as a panel. Your statement will be placed in the record.
PANEL: HON. FORREST GERARD, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR
INDIAN AFFAIRS, ACCOMPANIED BY GAYLEN BUTERBAUGH, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; AND SANFORD SAGALKIN, DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Mr. GERARD. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I would like to paraphrase and summarize a substantial portion of that statement.
[The information follows:] STATEMENT OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR INDIAN AFFAIRS FORREST J. GERARD I appreciate this opportunity to appear here today to discuss the management of Klamath River-origin salmon. You have expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the conservation and management program as well as the potential for conflict during the coming fishing season. I am happy to share our views with you, taking into account those aspects of management and regulation that have an impact throughout the migratory range of these salmon, as well as discussing the specific activities we are carrying out within our own sphere of jurisdiction.