Panel from left to right: Konrad Fisher, Dale Ann Sherman, Marlon Sherman and Louise McCovey meeting in the Goudi’ni Gallery at HSU during the 32nd Annual California Indian Conference on April 6. They discussed connecting river health to community health. Photo by Tyrone McDonald.

Salmon and us, tied to the health of the Klamath River


The We Are the River: Connecting River Health to Community Health panel met to discuss the state of the Klamath River, and the communities whose lives are tied to the health of the river.

The discussion was held in the Goudi’ni Gallery at Humboldt State during the 32nd Annual California Indian Conference on April 6.

Dale Ann Sherman, a Yurok Tribe member and retired HSU professor of Native American Studies, was one of the four panelists.

“I come from the Klamath and Smith Rivers. I belong to those rivers,” Dale Ann Sherman said. “In our blood runs the rivers and with that blood runs the salmon. We were born to go through time together. The salmon and us.”

There were four panelists for the We Are the River: Connecting River Health to Community Health discussion: Dale Ann Sherman, Louise McCovey, Marlon Sherman and Konrad Fisher.

Marlon Sherman is a Lakota tribal member, as well as the HSU department chair of Native American Studies.

“The people on the Klamath River depend upon the salmon, and other fish,” Marlon Sherman said. “That’s their sustenance and their livelihood. That’s their spirituality. It is what their ceremonies are based on. Everything flows around the salmon, and if those salmon don’t have sufficient water, they will not come back any more. It is fairly obvious.”

The salmon are at their lowest all time in returns due to problems with the river itself.

“Dams, diversions and pollution sums up what is wrong with the river,” Fisher said.

Fisher is a water protector who described the factors plaguing the Klamath River.

“Dams are the biggest source of blue-green toxic algae build up, nasty stuff that will make humans very sick,” Fisher said. “Naturally occurring toxic blue-green algae production is dramatically elevated by dam water restriction. Some of the highest levels [of blue-green algae toxicity] ever recorded on Earth were collected behind the dams on the Klamath River.”

A few years ago, a decades-long lawsuit by the Klamath tribes of the upper Klamath River went to the United States Supreme Court.

“They finally were able to get the U.S. Supreme Court to realize that they had water rights to the Klamath River based on as far back as what they called time immemorial,” Marlon Sherman said.

“Something exciting is happening very soon,” Fisher said. “We are on track for dam removal. Maybe not quite 2020, but 2021. Let’s continue to be hopeful.”

“The [Klamath River Renewal Corporation] is the entity that will essentially take ownership of the dams, and take them out. Go to one of their meetings if you can. It is on their website,” Fisher said.

“The salmon right now are at their bottom ebb. What they need now is plenty of clean, cold water,” Marlon Sherman said. “Water allocation is what the salmon need right now. This needs to be approached right now before the salmon are all gone. When the salmon go, who knows what’s next?”

Water allocation rights and diversions are Fisher’s specialty, and water in the Trinity River that would run into the Klamath River is currently being diverted.

“Water laws say there is a certain amount of water that should be left in the streams to meet certain needs,” Fisher said. “By and large they [the government] don’t [do their job] unless they are being forced, especially when it comes to telling people to use less water,” Fisher said.

The needs of the communities most affected by the destruction of the Klamath have gone unheard.

“The local laws of the people who have always lived there, and know the river, are never acknowledged,” Marlon Sherman said.

“Ceremony is law. Culture is law. Very few people recognize that fact,” Marlon Sherman said. “The tribal attorneys need to be paying more attention to the tribal imperatives of spirituality, culture and tribal knowledges of their indigenous localities.”

“Our people are fix-the-world people, that is what we do in our ceremonies,” McCovey said.

McCovey is the Yurok Tribe environmental director and HSU environmental science alumnus who was on the panel.

“There has been a rash of suicides in our community,” McCovey said. “For me in my job, I try to eliminate the environmental threats so that people can maintain their identity as river people, and feel safe in it.”

Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination

Major League Marijuana

Why I don’t think marijuana is everything it’s cracked up to be in baseball

Pigs Compost on Campus

CCAT tries to reduce HSU’s food waste footprint through new pig program