Yakama Nation Criticizing Gov't on Columbia River

The Yakama Nation is calling on the federal government to clean up sections of the Columbia River which are contaminating fish. Below is the full release from the nation chairman. 

TOPPENISH, Wash.—Yakama Nation Chairman Harry Smiskin today said state and federal governments must act to clean up polluted sections of the Columbia River that are contaminating fish. The call for action followed the release of fish consumption advisories by the Oregon Health Authority and Washington Department of Health.

“The fish advisories confirm what the Yakama Nation has known for decades,” he said. “State and federal governments can no longer ignore the inadequacy of their regulatory efforts and the failure to clean up the Columbia River.”

In the Treaty of 1855, the Yakama Nation retained fishing rights throughout the river. The Yakama Nation repeatedly identified contaminated sites along the Columbia, expressing concerns for the health and culture of the Yakama people and calling upon the state and federal agencies for cleanup actions that would protect the tribe’s resources.

"The new advisories once again pass the burden of responsibility from industry and government to Tribes and people in the region," Chairman Smiskin said. "Rather then addressing the contamination, we are being told to reduce our reliance on the Columbia River’s fish,” “This is unacceptable. The focus should not be ‘Do not eat’—it should be ‘Clean up’ the Columbia River.”