Tribal Circumstances Analysis Report Gives Congress Clear Direction to Uphold Columbia River Tribes Treaty Obligations

Report details recommendations to address the historic, ongoing and cumulative impacts of dams in Columbia River Basin

WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. Department of the Interior, in consultation and collaboration with Columbia River Basin Tribes, has released an updated analysis of the historic, cumulative, and ongoing impacts the Federal dams on the Columbia River, including the lower Snake River dams, have on Columbia River Basin Tribes. The Tribal Circumstances Analysis builds on the 1999 Tribal Circumstances Report (as amended in 2019) and the Tribal Perspective Reports, submitted in 2019, to inform future environmental compliance documents. In its recommendations, the report urges federal agencies to “exercise all authorities to take and support actions benefiting the depleted resources on which the Tribes rely, with the delisting of salmon stocks as the first step toward making a reality the salmon and other resource abundance the Tribes have long called for.”

“As salmon runs are swimming toward extinction, the Columbia River Basin Tribes have borne the lion’s share of the losses due to dams, particularly those on the lower Snake River. The Tribal Circumstances Analysis gives Congress clear direction, and we urge our lawmakers to get to work to fund and implement the analysis recommendations,” said Abby Tinsley, vice president for Conservation Policy, National Wildlife Federation. “Action on these recommendations is not only urgent, it aligns with the Biden administration’s clearly detailed policy on Indigenous Knowledge and historic preservation.”

The Tribal Circumstances Analysis is an important benchmark of the U.S. government commitments promised in the Resilient Columbia Basin agreement signed on Dec. 14, 2023, by the federal government, the states of Washington and Oregon, four Columbia Basin Tribes – the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe – and fishing, conservation and renewable energy groups. The analysis recommendations align with the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation, an independent federal agency, which recently voted unanimously to adopt a policy to establish a set of standards and guidelines that federal and state agencies, contractors, and other relevant entities should, at a minimum, seek to implement in order to incorporate Indigenous Knowledge and decision making.

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