Hoopa Woman Delivers Message About Indigenous Water Rights at World Water Forum

Dania Rose Colegrove (right), a Hoopa activist, presented the case for removal of four dams on the Klamath River at the World Water Forum in Marseilles, France. She was part of an inter-tribal team sponsored by the Hoopa Tribe and the Seventh Generation Fund to help inject an indigenous point of view into the conference which has historically been corporate influenced. / Photo by Chisa Oros.

By Malcolm Terence, Two Rivers Tribune Contributing Writer

It was no surprise that the Bureau of Reclamation would have a table at the World Water Forum. The event, this year in Marseilles, France, was really a gathering for many of globalism’s biggest corporations and the BOR was there to parade their operation of 366 dams across the U.S.

What was the surprise was when Hoopa resident Dania Rose Colegrove showed up as part of a team of indigenous rights activists. Colegrove told the BOR rep that she was from Klamath River country where she and her allies were working to remove four dams.

Colegrove, a veteran activist, has a smile as warm as a campfire and a frown that would chasten an angry bear. She probably employed both in explaining her mission in France to the bureaucrat of Reclamation. She said he stared at her, maybe a little bit afraid, then regained his composure and promised to come to her workshop on indigenous water rights the next day.

Colegrove was part of the Seventh Generation delegation attending the Sixth World Water Forum and an alternative non-corporate forum to present a statement titled “Water is Life” at a workshop called Indigenous People and Water: Culture, Rights and Well-being.

Beside Colegrove, the delegation included her daughter, Anna Rose Colegrove-Powell from Hoopa, Chisa Oros, and Tia Oros Peters from Arcata, and a handful of others from tribes in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and British Columbia.

In her presentation, Colegrove,  an activist on issues of water and Indian rights, narrated a power point presentation showing the historic and current uses of fish, the effects of mining, logging and agriculture on fish populations, and the un-dam the Klamath movement.

She cited the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and related it to the struggle in the Klamath Basin. She also told the audience in France about the trips Klamath activists made to Scotland and then to billionaire

Warren Buffet’s annual gathering in Omaha, Neb. to draw public and especially shareholder attention to the need to remove the dams.

She was not alone. The internet filled with criticisms of the forum and one typical posting by Wenonah Hauter wrote, “We are calling on the UN to stop kowtowing to industry and to start a process that looks at the real options to providing water for the thirsty…The time is now for the UN and the governments around the world to fulfill their duty and not delegate it to corporations.”

Colegrove’s daughter Anna Rose, a 22-year-old technician with the Hoopa Tribal Fisheries Department, is herself no novice at activism. Her mother remembers that she was already active in demonstrations at age 3.

“She was packing a sign about this big,” and Colegrove spread her hands to about twice the size of a 3-year old. “She would carry her sign for about a block and then we’d have to carry her.”

Colegrove-Powell posted several updates from the Forum on Facebook including one that said, “the 6th world water forum wrapped up today, its been an interesting, inspiring and eye opening experience. I’ve learned a lot, seen a lot and heard a lot. came all the way to France to be lied to by the Bureau of Reclamation’s (people who run the dams) Indian affairs rep, it’s ok, their BS isn’t going to pacify us… ended the day with a super yummy dinner with some awesome people.

Good food, good people, can’t ask for a better ending to a day.”

On the fourth day of the six-day forum, an alternative forum began, also in Marseilles. Busloads of protesters arrived from Paris, a day’s travel to the north.

Hauter, the blogger, wrote that the regular forum was dead and explained, “Low attendance and a dearth of real solutions make it pale and anemic in contrast to FAME (Forum Alternatif Mondial de l’Eau), the Alternative Forum where thousands of people are gathering across town to discuss implementing the right to water.”

Colegrove had barely unpacked from her travels when she was back at California activism. She was an early arrival at the Klamath River Keeper dinner/dance in Orleans where she prepared a salmon spread on crackers that disappeared quickly. She is a member of the KRK board of directors.

She also is a mainstay of the Klamath Justice Coalition that has led actions as far away as demonstrations in Omaha and Portland to promote dam removal and at hearings in Fort Bragg related to the Marine Life Protection Act and in Sacramento before the state water board.

She joined the native youth movement in British Columbia when the government was building a ski resort on former indigenous land at Whistler and even joined a blockade of the city of Vancouver, B.C. In that case, the city brought in mounted police when local anarchists provoked them.

Her most recent work is with a band of the Wintu Tribe who want to resume traditional dances in an area that would be flooded if the proposed heightening of Shasta Dam actually happens on the Sacramento River.

Wintu activists have repeatedly asked U.S. Forest Service authorities to modify recreational river uses during their ceremonies but the agency has not responded.

And, she reports, the hapless Bureau of Reclamation representative never did show up for her power point presentation at the French forum session.

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