I have written numerous e-mails to the Okanagan Indian Band chief and council, and to the Okanagan Nation Alliance in an effort to get them to start talking about the nuclear disasters happening at Hanford, Wash. and at Fukushima, Japan.
So far, I’ve had no response. Which is surprising because, as an indigenous person, I was raised to believe that we are the keepers of the earth so that all of our future generations will have a prosperous and healthy future. And it makes no sense to me as to why we are remaining silent on this very important issue.
I got involved in indigenous politics back in 1987 when Chief Murray Alexis was in office. I remember the old council talking about the need to protect the land and water back then.
Later, I was on the OKIB council when Chief Albert Saddleman was in office. Chief Saddleman was a leader in protecting our land and water.
For example, he was instumental in establishing the ONA fisheries department and the first to take action in re-establishing the salmon back into the Okanagan, via the Fraser and Columbia river systems.
And when I was in office as chief, I followed through with Chief Saddleman’s dream of bringing the salmon back, by signing a co-operative working agreement with the Colville Confederated Tribe (CCT) in Omak, Wash.
Basically, the CCT and the ONA have been working together ever since, with the goal of bringing the salmon back to Okanagan Lake and its tributaries.
Today, I’m proud to say that the ONA and CCT, with the co-operation of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, are building a salmon hatchery on the Penticton Indian Reserve, and it is near completion.
The goal is within site so why aren’t we saying anything about Hanford and Fukushima?
What sense does it make to build a salmon hatchery, only to have the young salmon fry swim through nuclear contaminated water at Hanford, and then spend four years swimming in the nuclear contaminated Fukushima ocean currents, and then swim back up through Hanford in order to reach the Okanagan spawning grounds?
Will our future generations be able to eat these salmon? I don’t think so.
Therefore, now, is the time to take action. The politicians have to do something.
They can start by doing what they do best: study the issue further, but the results must be made public.
The more information we have, the better we are able to protect ourselves.
Right now, we’re all in the dark. Time is of the essence!
Dan A. Wilson
Okanagan Indian Band