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Northwest Senators Take First Step to Replace Inundated Tribal Villages

April 18, 2016

When the dams were constructed along the Columbia River in the 1930s, tribal villages were permanently flooded.

Northwest senators are now taking the first steps to replace them.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley and Washington Sen. Patty Murray have placed a clause into a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers bill that would pay for planning a new tribal village at The Dalles Dam.

Three years ago, the corps recognized it hadn’t followed through on promises to replace inundated villages.

Merkley said he recently visited one of the fishing camps that grew in their place.

“One water site for the entire 30 families. No electricity. You don’t even have the basic facilities that you would have at an RV facility,” he said.

Tribal members have been catching salmon along the Columbia for 10,000 years.

The Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriation bill has been voted out of committee. But it still has to get through the Senate floor, the House and onto the president’s desk.


This August 2014 photo shows the home of Ranetta Spino and her family at the river’s edge at Lone Pine, a Native American fishing site on the Columbia River near The Dalles, Oregon. Lone Pine is one of 31 fishing sites developed as a replacement for tribal fishing grounds flooded or destroyed by hydroelectric dams. About 40 people, including children, permanently live at the fishing site in substandard conditions.
Gosia Wozniacka/AP