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Northwest Senators Take First Step To Replace Inundated Tribal Villages

When the dams were constructed along the Columbia River in the 1930s, tribal villages were permanently flooded.

Northwest senators are now taking the first steps to replace them.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley and Washington Sen. Patty Murray have placed a clause into a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers bill that would pay for planning a new tribal village at The Dalles Dam.

Three years ago, the corps recognized it hadn’t followed through on promises to replace inundated villages.

Merkley said he recently visited one of the fishing camps that grew in their place.

“One water site for the entire 30 families. No electricity. You don’t even have the basic facilities that you would have at an RV facility,” he said.

Tribal members have been catching salmon along the Columbia for 10,000 years.

The Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriation bill has been voted out of committee. But it still has to get through the Senate floor, the House and onto the president’s desk.

<p>This June 3, 2011, photo shows the John Day Dam along the Columbia River, near Rufus, Oregon.</p>

Rick Bowmer

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This June 3, 2011, photo shows the John Day Dam along the Columbia River, near Rufus, Oregon.

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.