Con apoyo bipartidista, el Comité Senatorial aprueba un proyecto de ley para mejorar la seguridad y el saneamiento en los sitios de pesca tribales del río Columbia

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs today gave bipartisan support to the Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act, passing the bill out of committee on a voice vote. The legislation, which is sponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), would enable the Bureau of Indian Affairs to make important safety and sanitation improvements at the tribal treaty fishing access sites along the Columbia River, which are on lands held by the United States for the benefit of the four Columbia River Treaty tribes.


“Visiting the Lone Pine site, I personally witnessed conditions that were shocking—both unjust and unsafe,” Merkley said. “We must work urgently to right this wrong. As we strive to fulfill the federal government’s unmet housing and relocation obligations to Columbia River tribes, it’s essential that we move quickly to improve conditions at existing sites. Passing this bill out of committee with bipartisan support is a critical step, and I will keep pushing to get it to the floor of the Senate and signed into law. No one should have to live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions like these.”


“It’s so important we keep working to honor treaties signed with Columbia River Treaty Tribes and address the highly unsafe and unsanitary conditions at many treaty fishing access sites along the Columbia River,” said Murray. “Today’s news that the bill has passed out of committee with bipartisan support is another step toward ensuring the four treaty tribes can exercise their protected rights such as salmon fishing and accessing safe housing along the river.”


“It’s long past time to correct this injustice for tribal families who, for decades, have endured dangerous housing conditions and increasingly deteriorating fishing sites,” Wyden said. “Improving conditions for tribal members to continue their traditional way of life on their own terms is a critical step toward a new chapter of equitable treatment for tribes.”


A partir de la década de 1930, la construcción de las tres represas de la parte baja del río Columbia desplazó a miembros de las cuatro tribus del Tratado del Río Columbia: las tribus confederadas de la reserva india de Warm Springs, las tribus confederadas de la reserva india de Umatilla, la tribu Nez Perce y las tribus confederadas y Bandas de la Nación Yakama. Estas tribus tienen un derecho protegido por tratado a pescar a lo largo del río Columbia en sus lugares habituales y acostumbrados.


Los senadores han estado luchando para abordar la necesidad urgente de viviendas e infraestructura adecuadas en los sitios tribales de acceso a la pesca construidos por el Cuerpo del Ejército luego de la construcción de las represas The Dalles, Bonneville y John Day. El Cuerpo del Ejército diseñó los sitios para que se utilizaran principalmente para el acceso diario a la pesca durante la temporada y para acampar temporalmente; sin embargo, en muchos casos los miembros tribales ahora utilizan las áreas como residencias a largo plazo o incluso permanentes. De hecho, muchas personas en estos sitios viven en condiciones extremadamente angustiantes, inseguras e insalubres, y la Oficina de Asuntos Indígenas no ha comprometido los recursos necesarios para garantizar las necesidades básicas de condiciones de vida limpias y seguras en estos sitios.


The Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act  would address the urgent need for improved conditions by:


·         Pidiendo a la Oficina de Asuntos Indígenas que lleve a cabo una evaluación muy necesaria de las condiciones actuales de seguridad y saneamiento en los sitios, en coordinación con las tribus afectadas por el Tratado del Río Columbia; y


·         Authorizing the Bureau to work on improving sanitation and safety conditions in several key areas such as structural improvements (restrooms, washrooms, and other buildings), safety improvements (wells and infrastructure to address fire concerns, and more), electrical infrastructure to ensure safe electrical hookups, and basic sewer and septic infrastructure.


La legislación cuenta con el apoyo de las cuatro tribus del Tratado del Río Columbia: las tribus confederadas de la reserva india de Warm Springs, las tribus confederadas de la reserva india de Umatilla, la tribu Nez Perce y las tribus y bandas confederadas de la nación Yakama, así como el río Columbia. Comisión Intertribal de Pesca.


“The passage of the Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is another step forward to remedy the depressed conditions found at tribal fishing sites along the Columbia River,” said Leland Bill, Chairman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “The legislation will bring needed priority and resources to the fishing sites and in turn the lives of tribal members who come to the Columbia River to exercise their treaty fishing rights. We appreciate the Delegation’s commitment improving the health and safety at these sites and look forward to working with them on these issues.”


“This legislation will improve the infrastructure for Indian treaty fishing on the Columbia River. Exercise of those rights sustains the lives and culture of the Warm Springs people,” said Austin Green, Jr., Chairman, Tribal Council, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.


“We are pleased this legislation is moving through the legislative process swiftly and is one step closer to fulfilling our treaty rights for fishing on the Columbia River,” said Board of Trustees Chair Gary Burke, of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.


“The Nez Perce Tribe is pleased that this legislation which will benefit our members and those of other treaty tribes has been introduced and considered early in the new Congress,” said Nez Perce Chairman Mary Jane Miles. “We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Merkley and others from the Northwest congressional delegation.”


Relative to this legislation, Delano Saluskin, the Vice Chairman of Yakama Nation Tribal Council, recalled the famous words of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black who, in commenting on a case involving the Tuscarora Tribe, wrote, “Great nations, like great men, should keep their word.” Saluskin said, “When the Federal government built the dams of the lower Columbia River they promised the Indian people whose treaty fishing sites were inundated that new access would be established. That promise was made in 1939 and was only nominally adhered to until 1988 when former Senator Dan Evans of Washington State secured passage of Title IV of PL 100-581, entitled Columbia River Treaty Fishing Access Sites. Today’s legislation is the next step in keeping the promise of fishing access on the Columbia River originally made to our people and we greatly appreciate Senators Merkley, Wyden, Cantwell and Murray for their leadership on this matter.”