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For Immediate Release
May 19, 2022
Grand Ronde Tribe Files to Intervene in PGE Lawsuit Against State of Oregon
Oregon City, Ore. – The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde has filed as an intervening defendant, in opposition to PGE’s recent condemnation lawsuit. In the Motion to Intervene, CTGR makes the case that PGE’s action is a substantial overreach, tantamount to “using the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 791a et. seq, as a lever to invalidate Grand Ronde’s entire cultural fishery at Willamette Falls.”.”
“PGE’s lawsuit is a massive overreach based on false and misguided concerns. If PGE succeeds, not only will it threaten the Tribe’s ceremonial fishery, it will transfer ownership of Oregon’s iconic Willamette Falls from the state of Oregon, and all of Oregon’s citizens, to a private, for-profit corporation,” said Cheryle Kennedy, CTGR Tribal Council Chairwoman. “Their attack on the Tribe’s ceremonial fishery comes despite the fact that CTGR never crosses into PGE’s property when fishing and harvesting at Willamette Falls and PGE’s past approvals of our safety plans. There are more appropriate channels to resolve these issues.”
CTGR has harvested lamprey at Willamette Falls for more than 20 years. The Tribe has also been conducting its ceremonial fishery at Willamette Falls since 2016, when the state authorized CTGR to harvest up to 15 salmon and steelhead for ceremonial purposes. In 2018, the state of Oregon permitted the construction of a fishing platform. CTGR’s fishing, harvesting and platform are solely on state land.
PGE reviewed and agreed with a shoreline fishing safety plan presented in 2016 and in early discussions, PGE was supportive of CTGR’s efforts to locate a ceremonial fishing platform at Willamette Falls. It was only in 2018 that PGE’s position flip-flopped.
“PGE would not support the fishing platform construction due to claims raised by other tribes with whom PGE has business relationships,” Kennedy wrote in her declaration.
In the past, PGE has reviewed and accepted CTGR’s safety plan, which goes above and beyond the safety measures of other fishers in the area. There have been zero incidents and all fishers utilize harnesses and ropes, and the fishing groups are limited to small sizes with additional safety staff on-site to supervise.
Willamette Falls is the home of CTGR’s ancestors from the Charcowah Village of the Clowewalla (Willamette band of Tumwaters) and the Kosh-huk-shix Village of Clackamas people. CTGR fished at the falls since time immemorial and maintained their connection even after removal to the Grand Ronde reservation. Now a private corporation is seeking legal authority to remove the Tribe, once again.
The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon includes over 30 tribes and bands from western Oregon, northern California and southwest Washington. For more information, visit www.grandronde.org.