Thursday June 20, 2024


The hydropower dams on the Columbia River flooded villages, disrupted economies and ways of life and continue to harm people indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, according to a first-of-its-kind federal report released Tuesday.

The report by the Department of Interior was produced as part of a major agreement last year between tribes and the United States, in which the federal government promised $1 billion to restore wild salmon, produce clean energy and more—but ultimately stopped short of dam removal, an intensely controversial subject.

The report provides a summary of the historic, ongoing and cumulative harm to eight Columbia Basin tribes caused by 11 dams built in the Columbia and Snake rivers. It marks the first time the federal government has detailed these harms.

From the displacement of people to the silencing of rushing flows and the decline of salmon, the report evaluates how the Columbia River Basin, and the Indigenous people intrinsically tied to it, was dramatically altered in less than a century after the construction of dams. The report calls for federal agencies to recognize tribes’ expertise in restoring salmon runs, and to take impactful, immediate next steps.

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