Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation
On Wednesday, October 6, 2021, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation (“Yakama Nation") met with Rye Development company, proponents of the proposed Goldendale Pump Storage Project (“Project") to advocate for the protection of Yakama cultural, ceremonial, and traditional resources at Juniper Point. The Project's proposed construction in the area known as Pushpum has exceptional cultural importance to the Yakama Nation, includir archaeological sites, two of which are National Register of Historic Places-eligible and one multiple property documentation. "Pushpum has been a sacred site for Yakama ceremonies, legend, and the gathering of traditional roots and medicines since time immemorial" stated Tribal Council Cultural Committee Chair George Selam. The proposed Project includes two reservoirs exceeding 120 acres in surface area and 14,000 linear feet of rockfill embankment.
The industrial-scale Project anticipates a generating capacity of 1,200 megawatts.
Yakama members continue annual gathering practices in the proposed development area for traditional foods and medicines. “For generations, regional utility infrastructure has been developed in the Yakama Nation's Treaty-territory, blasting customary fishing sites, flooding traditional villages, and seeping radioactive pollution into subsistence and medicinal root fields" said Yakama Tribal Councilman Jeremy Takala. The Yakama Nation Treaty of 1855 with the United States reserved a 1.3 million acre Reservation for the exclusive use and benefit of the Yakama people and reserved rights to exercişe usual and accustomed fishing, hunting, and gathering across the more than 10 million acre Treaty-territory of the Pacific Northwest region. Councilman Takala further commented, "For thousands of years Yakama culture and religion has balanced human stewardship of the land for generations yet unborn,”
Yakama Tribal Council Vice Chairman Virgil Lewis chaired the discussion, further noting "In the next ten years, the Pacific Northwest will be pressured by a multi-billion dollar energy industry for more infrastructure development. This new technology must be developed ethically without destroying the cultural resources and gathering sites that are part of the Yakama way of life." The proposed Project license application was accepted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in June 2020 with anticipated regulatory review until 2023.