The Nez Perce Tribe continued its campaign Wednesday to restore the lower Snake River to its free-flowing form with the launch of its Salmon Orca Project website and a plea to President Joseph Biden.
The tribe has long called for breaching the dams as the best way to restore threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead runs. Last spring, it backed Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson’s effort to remove the dams and compensate affected industries and communities. The tribe also organized the Salmon Orca Summit, a gathering of dozens of tribes throughout the Pacific Northwest in July, and was able to secure resolutions backing Simpson’s concept from the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and National Congress of American Indians.
In a news release, Tribal Chairman Samuel N. Penney said the federal government, by failing to stop the decline of anadromous fish runs, is failing to uphold promises made in the 1855 and 1863 treaties.
“As a result, our people and our culture and our very way of life face extinction,” Penney said in the news release. “That’s why we stand united as Tribal Nations and call on the Biden Administration to honor the treaties made between our sovereign nations. We call on this Administration to work with us to replace the lower Snake River Dams. And we call on the Administration to do so now, not tomorrow or two years from now. The time to act is now.”
The news release noted dam removal stands to help recover endangered orcas, also known as southern resident killer whales, that feed almost exclusively on chinook and spend part of the year near the mouth of the Columbia River.