US, Canada To Open Renegotiations Of Columbia River Treaty Without Tribal Presence
This story has been updated.
The United States and Canada next week will begin the official process of re-negotiating the Columbia River Treaty, which expires in 2024. The 1964 agreement governs the upper reaches of the 1,200 mile Columbia River.
The U.S. State Department is leading the renegotiation. In a statement, the department outlined key objectives that include flood control, hydropower and ecosystem management.
The announcement won praise from both Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon.
DeFazio said the treaty is “of vital importance to the Pacific Northwest.”
In addition to the State Department, the negotiating team includes representatives from the Bonneville Power Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
But there’s still no tribal representative. In an email, a spokesperson said the State Department will consult with Northwest tribes as negotiations proceed, but the department has “no plans to change the composition of the team.”
On Wednesday, Michael Marchand, chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville, expressed his disappointment in the process. He said the State Department has excluded the 15 Tribal Nations that live along the Columbia river.
“These are the people with the longest and deepest connections to the Columbia River, the people who have respected and depended upon the river and its salmon and other natural and cultural resources for thousands of years,” said Marchand in a statement.
Marchand also pointed out that the Solicitor’s Opinions from the U.S. Interior Department confirm that the 1.5 million-acre Colville Reservation includes a portion of the Columbia River from near Kettle Falls down river to its confluence with the Okanogan River. Two of the largest dams on the Columbia river are located on the reservation.