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WocusWoman 08-24-2005 12:30 PM

Klamath Tribes work to get reservation back
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Top Stories

Tribes delay reservation talks

Published Wednesday August 24, 2005


Dissent in the Klamath Tribes has delayed talks about a tribal proposal to buy national forest land for a reservation.

A few weeks after Chairman Allen Foreman floated the idea of buying reservation land, rather than receiving it as a grant, tribal members held a special meeting of their General Council to raise questions.

The tribal members noted that the idea had not been "reviewed, discussed or adopted by General Council," according to a document reviewed at the Aug. 6 meeting.

All 3,579 registered members of the Tribes can come to General Council meetings. It takes 50 members for a quorum. The meetings are held four times a year, but there are occasional special sessions. The early August meeting was a special session. How many members were at that meeting hasn't been made public.

On July 13, Foreman gave Klamath County commissioners a one-page description of the idea to buy the land for "fair market" value, although that wasn't further described.

He was joined by farmers, ranchers and a Jeld-Wen vice president in saying the proposal would be a way to bring unity to the Klamath Basin.

One document from the General Council's special session, obtained by the Herald and News, raises these questions:

n "What is in this proposal for them (farmers, ranchers, Jeld-Wen)?"

n "What is in it for the Klamath Tribes, future generations and our Treaty resources?"

n "Are the Klamath Tribes expected to balance the economy of the entire Klamath Basin on our backs and the back of future generations?"

A followup meeting between tribal officials and the county commissioners was scheduled Aug. 2, but the Tribes canceled it, Commissioner Bill Brown said.

He said it was to be scheduled for late August, but those plans fell through. Now, the meeting will be on Sept. 26, pending the outcome of a private meeting of Tribes members on Sept. 20.

"It's just getting delayed, delayed and delayed," Brown said.

Foreman has not returned repeated messages about the land-purchase idea over the past two weeks. Other tribal officials have declined comment on the substance of those matters.

The commissioners are waiting to hear back on questions they had about the Foreman's idea. Those questions include whether the national forest is for sale, what effect having a sovereign nation such as the Tribes take over the land would have on the county and how the Tribes would pay for the land.

"We asked several questions that they are not ready to answer," said Commissioner John Elliott.

He said the commissioners haven't been told why there has been a delay.

"I suspect they haven't fleshed out their proposal completely," he said. "It's going to take a pretty interesting proposal to change some opinions."
The Klamath Tribes had a reservation until 1961, when they were terminated by the federal government and most of the land became part of what is now the Fremont-Winema National Forest. The Tribes have argued that its members need a reservation to be self-sustaining, but previous proposals have had the government giving the Tribes reservation land.
Also in the wake of Foreman's proposal, the membership voted Leonard O. Norris Jr. off the 10-member Tribal Council. No reason was given publicly, nor were there indications that his removal was directly related to the idea of buying land for a reservation.

Norris was the first Tribal Council member to be removed in 20 years, Tribes Secretary Torina Case said. He was replaced by Jeannie McNair, who was next on the list of most votes garnered in the tribal election of April 2004.

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