News Release 

Nez Perce Tribe

On September 22, the Nez Perce Tribe announced the launch of the Salmon Orca Project (Project). A result of the worsening Snake River salmon extinction crisis, the Project directly calls on President Biden’s Administration to take swift and unequivocal action to support the replacement of the four Lower Snake River dams along the Snake River.

“We are battling for the future of a sacred way of life for many in our region. The United States and native nations signed treaties — treaties that were to ensure the existence and protection of salmon in perpetuity. But, our salmon are going extinct. Treaties have not been honored. As a result, our people and our culture and our very way of life face extinction. 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,” said Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee Chairman, Samuel Penney.

In the face of a precipitous decline of salmon populations in the Columbia-Snake River Basin, Northwest Tribes have taken unprecedented action, coming together, urging action to replace Snake River Dams and to continue working toward protection of their way of life. These actions include the convening of the historic Salmon Orca Summit on the Squaxin Island Reservation in July 2021 and the issuance of resolutions by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and the National Congress of American Indians.

If no action is taken, it is not a question of IF, but WHEN salmon will die out; a species that has been in existence for millennia but is now hovering on extinction because of failed decision making and inaction. “As we face several challenges — an aging energy infrastructure, depressed local economies, climate change, and ever-declining fish runs — we have an opportunity now to address all of these issues and to take a new course of action to provide a stronger future for our region,” said Chairman Penney.

In addition to providing relief for Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead and the tribal nations that rely upon those fish for their culture and survival, replacing the four Lower Snake River dams would also benefit the Southern Resident Orca whales that call Puget Sound home. A major food source for these orcas are the Chinook salmon that live and migrate from the inland rivers of central Idaho out to the ocean. Restoring the Lower Snake River and the salmon that grace those rivers will have tremendous benefits for the Southern Resident orcas. In fact, Governor Jay Inslee’s Puget Sound Orca Task Force listed removal of these four dams in the top 10 actions necessary to save these starving killer whales.

The Salmon Orca Project will be based at the website domain www.salmonorcaproject.com, and will also have an active presence on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A call to action has been created providing individuals an opportunity to “Tell the White House & Dept. of Interior: Replace the Lower Snake River Dams and Save Our Salmon!”. Sign the letter today and help support the Northwest Tribes, Southern Resident Orcas and the Salmon.

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