Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Sunday night, turn on the TV, it sounds like a war movie, but it’s a mass shooting in Las Vegas. Another person with access to guns, this time fully automatic assault rifles — that’s correct, plural — mows down at least 50 and there are reports of 500 wounded. Whatever the numbers, it looked like either a war movie, sci-fi movie or terrorist event. It seemed unreal. All happening on the Las Vegas strip at a concert with families, some of whom have children present.
When will we get gun laws that make sense and keep people safe, but allow people access to guns for hunting? We don’t know yet what set the shooter off this time. Sometimes it's hate, as happened in that Charleston church shooting of nine, sometimes it’s just someone with mental problems, as happened with the 26 children and teachers in a Connecticut grade school, or the seriously conflicted person in Orlando, who shot 49 people.
People have mental and emotional breaks; sometimes it’s an individual who becomes the object of their focus, sometimes it’s a group they feel in some way wronged them. According to Newsweek, there is a mass shooting almost every day in the U.S., and according to Wikipedia.org, gun violence accounts for thousands of deaths and injuries every year.
We have become inured to it. People are outraged for a few days and turn to the next thing. The only places on the planet that consistently have more violence than the U.S. are war zones. Are we living in one?
New tweet rules
Oregon recently tightened up restrictions on cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle. Now we need a national law prohibiting silly tweets while acting as president.
Working to divide
The president's stymied effort to build a border wall (and have Mexico fund it) seems to have left him determined to erect walls in every other aspect of American life. Consider his sympathetic comments on white supremacists, his pardoning of Sheriff Arpaio, his attacks on the NFL players' protests, and most recently, his condemnation of the Puerto Rican people's response to Hurricane Maria. It seems to me that our leaders should be working to unite us rather than divide us.
This newspaper’s recent insert, The Gorge Sportsman, included an article “Reeling in the Rulebreakers” about Oregon State Police’s sport fishery enforcement effort in the Columbia River Gorge. The article highlighted the important role conservation officers play in enforcing fishing regulations. However, the article overlooked two critical pieces that misrepresent the tribal fishery in the waters we share.
It was unsettling that The Gorge Sportsman placed photos of tribal fishers at Cascade Locks despite no mention of the tribal treaty fishery. Tribal ceremonial, subsistence, and commercial fishing is under the jurisdiction of four Columbia River tribes: Umatilla, Yakama, Warm Springs, and Nez Perce. Tribal regulations are comprehensive, defining season, take, gear, and exclusion areas. We use both modern and ancient fishing methods and our right to do so is reserved under treaty with the United States. When we are able to fish at times or locations and with techniques sports anglers can’t, it can often lead to public misperceptions of the tribal fishery and even tribal members themselves.
I invite The Gorge Sportsman to join me on the river to help deepen an understanding of tribal fishing in the Gorge.
I was surprised that a story on Columbia River fish and game enforcement efforts failed to mention the significance of the tribal fishery and tribal enforcement efforts. Depending on the season, tribal fishers represent half to two-thirds of the people fishing in the Gorge. The four tribes, through their organization the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, have a team of officers authorized to enforce both tribal regulations on tribal fishers and State of Oregon fishing regulations on non-Indian anglers. CRITFC’s enforcement office, headquartered in Hood River, employs 15 officers who conduct conservation and public safety duties along the Columbia River from Bonneville to McNary dams.
Our culture is built on salmon — a sacred gift from the Creator; Columbia River salmon know no greater advocate. In addition to our law enforcement personnel, CRITFC and its member tribes employ over 600 people dedicated to salmon restoration throughout the Columbia River system that delivers harvest opportunities to sport anglers and tribal fishers alike.