Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tribal Leaders Please Send Letters Now to oppose S. 2379

July, 28th 2014


Honorable Jon Tester, Chairman
Honorable John Barrasso, Vice Chairman
Committee on Indian Affairs
United States Senate
838 Hart Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Honorable Mary L. Landrieu, Chair
Honorable Lisa Murkowski, Ranking Member, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
304 Dirksen Building
Washington, DC 20510



Re:          Tribal rights and trust resources at risk in S. 2379 (Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2014)


Dear Senators Landrieu, Murkowski, Tester and Barrasso:



The Modoc Nation (formerly known as the “Modoc Tribe”), a federally recognized native nation by virtue of the Lakes Treaty of 1864 and the Klamath Tribe Restoration Act of 1986, hereby submits the following issues and comments that we would to like make regarding  S. 2379

S. 2379 contains language that is of great concern to our Tribe because it allows the United States to take unilateral action to abandon its treaty and trust obligations without tribal consent.  Following the devastating effects of the Dawes Act in 1887 and Termination Era of the 1950s, the United States declared that the practice of exercising absolute plenary power against the interests of Tribes Native people should forever be removed as an acceptable policy because of the dishonor that it brings to the Nation.  Yet, it has once again resurfaced in S. 2379 by proposing to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to unilaterally abandon its obligation to enforce treaty and trust obligations to affected tribes that result from the Department of the Interior’s own actions.  We ask that you formally reject this attempt to undermine United States trust obligations to tribes by opposing enactment of S.2379, or any other legislation that contains this already rejected bad Indian policy.


It is reported that a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was conducted on June 3, 2014, with little notice and without providing an opportunity for affected tribes to present testimony.  This demonstrates a complete lack of respect by the Committee to Indian tribes, as well as a willingness to use backroom politics and improper manipulation of the legislative process as tactics to move legislation that is adverse to Indian tribes. 


The National Congress of American Indians, by Resolution PSP-09-051, and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, by Resolution 09-63, has opposed any legislation that would terminate or subordinate the rights of any Indian tribe without their consent.  We ask that you reaffirm your commitment to protect the United States’ trust obligations to tribes and Native people by opposing the passage of S. 2379.


Although we have exercised our rights to sovereignty and self-determination as a federally recognized tribe to protect our rights to be a Tribe by ratifying and adopting our own Constitution forming our own Government on June 19th 2010; We have not forfeited our Federal Recognition nor given up any rights and still wish Government to Government Relations with The Federal Government of The United States.   Our rights, homelands, distinct culture, beliefs, protection, and well-being was not being represented or protected within the Klamath Tribes. 

   We will also soon have an address in California too since we have also purchased land for our Nation in California.


Respectfully submitted,

Chief Jefferson Greywolf-Kelley

Chief of The Modoc Nation

P.O. Box 506

Independence, Oregon 97351


The Modoc Nation

The Modoc Nation on Facebook

The Sovereign Rights of Self-Governance and Self-Determination are at Stake in the Klamath Bill

The Sovereign Rights of Self-Governance and Self-Determination are at Stake in the Klamath Bill


The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and S. 2379, a bill to implement it, got a quick hearing. Reclamation’s lawyer and several Oregonians testified but no one from California, including The Modoc Nation, was given an opportunity to participate. The Federal government’s role in the KBRA should be alarming to any tribe that prizes the sovereign values of self-governance and self-determination.


The Modoc Tribe, now (Nation) in California is one of the few Indian tribes who legally own water rights that are protected by treaty, Executive Order and federal law.


S. 2379, introduced on May 21 by Senators Wyden, Merkley, Feinstein and Boxer, will effectively bind the United States to abandon its fiduciary duty to protect our fishery from the effects of the Bureau of Reclamation’s management of the Klamath Irrigation project.  S. 2379 would authorize this provision in the KBRA: 


The United States, acting in its capacity as trustee for the Federally recognized tribes of the Klamath Basin, hereby provides . . .  Assurances that it will not assert:  (i) tribal water or fishing right theories or tribal trust theories in a manner, or (ii) tribal water or trust rights, whatever they may be, in a manner that will interfere with the diversion  . . . of water for the Klamath Reclamation Project.


Our Tribe evaluated the Klamath settlement on the basis of decades-long experience with legal, political, and administrative conflicts that threaten the rivers and fishery we have relied on for thousands of years. We identified policy, fiscal, technical and scientific problems, and proposed solutions. At the conclusion of negotiations, our judgment, exercised in utmost good faith, led us to reject the settlement as too risky to our rights.


That should have been the end of the matter. After all, such decisions are made daily by businesses, every level of government and, yes, Indian tribes. Parties meet, confer, bargain, disagree, and either make a deal or they don’t. 


But after being pressured by water users, the United States did not respect our decision by stating “although we recognize The Modoc Nation as descendants of Modoc people, we have to assume that the Klamath Tribe(s) is looking out for your best interest”. Even though as of June 19th 2010 we were no longer with the Klamath Tribe(s). We exercised our rights as a federally recognized tribe and formed our own Government because the Klamath Tribe(s) was not representing our best interest or protecting the Modoc tribes’ rights as you can see with the KBRA & KHSA Agreement.  Now Congress and the Secretary of the Interior are gambling with our rights. If their gamble fails, our tribe loses.


At the end of the day, the policies of the Klamath settlement mock the tribal consultation and coordination mandate in Executive Order 13175. In that order the President recognizes the right of Indian tribes to self-government and supports tribal sovereignty and self-determination.


Instead, the Klamath settlement turns the fiduciary duty inherent in Congress’ power over Indian affairs into a bludgeon against tribal rights.  The National Congress of American Indians (Resolution No. PSP-09-051) and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (Resolution No. 09-63) have long decried this kind of outcome.


The precedent that S. 2379 represents for tribal rights is an unacceptable and unnecessary price for Indian country to pay.  All tribes should tell Congress and the President to reject forced settlements for our tribe or any tribe.    

Thank You Hoopa Tribe for your outline of this document and letter to send to the committee of Indian Affairs and Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.   

Chief Jefferson Grey-Wolf Kelley
Chief of The Modoc Nation

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Please Call to Help The Modoc Nation Keep it's Rights!

Dear Friends and Family, it is not too late yet. Please contact the Energy and Natural Resource Committee and tell them that we oppose S.2379 Klamath Basin Water Agreement. That taking away our Rights is not what we want and do not agree... to it. That if this goes through yet another grievous injustice has been committed against our people. That The Modoc Nation exercised it Rights as a Federally Recognized Tribe in 2010 and formed it's own Government to protect its people,rights and homeland. That the Klamath's have no authority to sign away anything regarding the Modoc tribe. Please Call 202-224-4971