Skeleton's Under the DamsMail from Scott Bosse, Idaho Rivers United, Boise
June 10, 1999 Boise Weekly
After reading the latest ad in the (Boise) Weekly by the Pulp and Paperworkers Resource Council, I asked myself the following question: What makes jobs in Lewiston so much more sacred than jobs anywhere else?
The ad sells the message that the lives of everyday people like Mo, a pregnant waitress in a rural farm community, will be destroyed if the lower Snake dams are bypassed to save salmon. Anohter ad in the "race to extinction" series features a farm family named the Dyes, complete with black lab and newborn colt, who face starvation if the dams are removed. We are left with the plea: What about us?
The intent is to paint the issue of salmon recovery as a case of fish versus people. And we all know which of those two ends up behind the glass at the seafood counter.
The truth is that this is an issue of jobs versus jobs, and thus people versus people. For every job that the lower Snake dams created in Lewiston, many more jobs were lost in the rail and trucking industries that once transported grain to Portland. Who cried for them? For every coffee-toting waitress in Genesse, there are hundreds of hardworking people who slipped through the cracks in fishing-dependent communities like Riggins, Stanley and Salmon. Did anyone hold a fundraiser for them? For every Dye family, there are thousands of commercial fishing families from Astoria to Anchorage whose livelihoods were submerged by Ice Harbor, Little Goose, Lower Monumental and Lower Granite dams. Who passed around the collection plate for them?
And let's not forget the Northwest tribes -- who we promised would have salmon to harvest for as long as the mountains stood and the rivers flowed. How can we compensate them for taking away their primary food source and centerpiece of their religion? Where's the love for our native brothers and sisters?
It's been said that until there is justice for all, there is justice for none.
So the next time you read about another northern Idaho family that might have to make economic adjustments in order to save salmon, remember the countless thousands who have already lost so much. And then ask yourselves: How many more lives are we willing to sacrifice so Lewiston doesn't have to change?
There are a lot of skeletons under those reservoirs down the river.
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