From the January 2002 Idaho Observer:

AP story reduces Klamath conflict to racial intolerance

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- “A draft report from Oregon State University has characterized the Klamath Basin as sharply polarized over the water issue with an undercurrent of racism against the tribes,” the closing paragraph of an Associated Press story about the Klamath Basin water controversy said.

George Curry, 23; Richard Sharp, 26; and Adam Lee, 27, of Bonanza, Ore., were arrested and given OR release December 20 for traveling to the Town of Chilloquin where they allegedly shotgunned a bunch of street signs while yelling “Sucker lovers.”

The three men are being charged with felony intimidation, conspiracy, unlawful use of a weapon, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.

Chilliquin, a town of 800, is the home of the Klamath Tribes offices. The AP story explains that the Lost River Sucker, which may or may not be endangered, is sacred to the Klamath Tribes that celebrate their returning to the Sprague River to spawn each March.

It appears, however, that in recent years the return of the suckerfish was more of an excuse to party than strict adherence to tribal tradition. According to the Klamath Tribes' website, “The last known shaman to perform the ceremony was Lee Snipes - Captain Sky, perhaps in the early 30s.”

Indeed, throughout the spring and summer months and while The Idaho Observer was directing its attention toward the reporting of the K-Falls water controversy last August and September, there was no mention of the suckers' sacred status.

But now that the federal government has arbitrarily determined that the Lost River Sucker may be endangered, there is renewed interest in the sacred sucker. “By continuing this ceremony the Klamath Tribes are ensuring the survival of both a species and our Tribal traditions,” the Klamath Tribes state.

With help from dominant media sources such as the AP, the real issues of breach of contract to effect the federal agenda of rural cleansing are being sidestepped and blame is being shifted to the cultural insensitivity of area farmers.

Last April 6 Klamath Basin Farmers were informed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that irrigation water from the state of Oregon's Klamath Lake would not be allowed to flow through the some 3,000 miles of privately-owned irrigation canals that supply more than 1,000 farms with water. The feds claimed that the endangered status of suckers and salmon warranted their decision (The Idaho Observer, Aug., Sept, 2001).

Farmers had no warning and had already invested in the seed, equipment and field preparations that normally preceed the flow of irrigation water.

The Klamath Tribes, whose strict adherence to tradition also allows them to justify organized gambling at its Klam-Mo-Ya Casino, apparently do not understand that they are being used by a U.S. government that will betray farmers for fish in this century as easily as it betrayed Indians in everything the last two centuries.

The real test will come this coming April. Our investigations last summer indicated that a group of farmers will make sure that the water will be turned on this year -- no matter what.

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