“We went to Omaha to send Warren Buffett and his executives a clear message that as long as there is no business as usual on the Klamath, there will be no business as usual for him, Mid American Energy, or PacifiCorp,” said Karuk Vice-Chair Leaf Hillman, after the shareholder meeting held May 1 --4.
Tribal members, commercial and sport fishers and Regina Chichizola of Klamath River Keeper, camped out in front of Omaha’s Qwest Center at 1 a.m. the night before in a cold rain. This allowed the group to get at the head of the cue to ask Buffett questions during a six-hour question and answer session in front of 30,000 shareholders.
Karuk World Renewal Priest, or Fatawana, Chook-Chook Hillman spearheaded the strategy and was the third person to speak at the meeting. After introducing himself in his native tongue, Chook-Chook challenged Buffett by saying, “as a European-American you are the visitor in our country…will you not meet with the native people impacted by your fish killing dams. You say you want to address poverty and disease in the third world. But you are creating those same third world conditions right here in America. We want to meet and resolve the issue in a way that saves you money and saves our culture!” Chook-Chook then presented a dam removal agreement.
As he spoke, Georgiana Myers and Annalia Norris of the Yurok Tribe unfurled a large banner that read “Klamath Dams Equal Cultural Genocide.”
Before lunch two more questions came from the group, one from Klamath River Keeper Regina Chichizola focused on the toxic algae blooms in Buffett’s Klamath Reservoirs and another from Mike Polmateer of the Karuk Tribe. Each time Buffett passed the question off to Mid American CEO David Sokol and each time another banner was unfurled. One read, “Buffett’s Dams kill salmon, communities, and jobs.” Another read “Warren: Un-dam the Klamath - sign the agreement now!”
Sokol answered each time by describing the issue as “complex” while security escorted the Tribal members from the building. There were no arrests.
After the lunch break, Buffett announced that he would not field any more questions about the Klamath. Commercial salmon fishermen Dave Bitts, Karuk fisherman Ron Reed, and Karuk Medicine Woman Cathy McCovey where denied access to the microphones despite being next in the cue to speak.
Bitts, who had to navigate around a snow storm in Denver to make the meeting was clearly disappointed.
“I traveled over 3000 miles to be here and woke up at two o’clock in the morning to speak, then I was told I couldn’t speak. The story I have to tell is that of an out of work commercial fishermen,” said Bitts. “Buffett spent a lot of time today explaining what he couldn’t do for us. I wanted to ask the richest man on the planet what he could do for us.”
“Now we return home having accomplished our mission. We sent a clear message to Buffett, Sokol and every other executive involved that as long as there is no justice on the Klamath, there will be no peace for them,” said Karuk Tribal Member Jess Mcloughlin who was involved in erecting the banners.
Yurok council member Richard Myers said, “Everyone has had a chance to sit at the table and work with the tribes towards a resolution. There is one empty chair left. We are waiting for PacifiCorp to take a seat.”
Pictures from this year’s protests are available from the Associated Press and will be posted online soon at http://www.klamathriver.org/.
Learn more about the Klamath Crisis on YouTube:
Un-dam It Commercial: http://youtube.com/watch?v=pFoyzZvuXxs
Klamath River Toxic Algae: http://youtube.com/watch?v=tDny8jvd950&feature=related
Tribes and Fisherman at Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders meeting 2007: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SasDF5b9rks
For more information: http://www.berkshireshareholders.com/ http://www.salmonforsavings.org/
S. Craig Tucker, Ph.D. Klamath Campaign Coordinator Karuk Tribe of California NEW NUMBER home office: 707-839-1982 Tribal office in Orleans: 530-627-3446 x3027 cell: 916-207-8294 ctucker [at] karuk.us