Tribes take aim at stronger water pollution rules

Posted by Trish Riley, February 10, 2011

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are leading the drive to push Oregon to adopt the nation’s strictest rules against toxic pollution of the state’s waters.

Fish consumption, the critical element in determining the new rules, was at the heart of testimony offered by Leo Stewart, vice chairman of the CTUIR board of trustees.

Stewart spoke Tuesday at a public meeting held by the state Department of Environmental Quality in Pendleton that attracted about 30 people.

“The higher fish consumption rate is designed to better protect Oregon’s more sensitive fish consumers,” Stewart said. “In the past, water quality standards did not protect Indian people. They did not protect our children, our women, our mothers. We must think of the next Seven Generations — what we will pass on to them — what they will inherit. They should not face greater health risks for exercising their Treaty Rights — for practicing their religion and for continuing our culture.”