Eye on the Amazon

Klamath River Youth Travel to Brazil to Join Belo Monte Dam Fight

Klamath River Youth Travel to Brazil to Join Belo Monte Dam Fight

Today a Northern California delegation of Indigenous youth and Klamath River protectors depart San Francisco International Airport, headed to Brazil's Xingu River Basin in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The group will meet with communities affected by the proposed Belo Monte dam project.

"We want to show solidarity in the struggle to preserve and protect inherited cultures and natural resources from shortsighted projects like the proposed Belo Monte dam," said Dania Rose Colegrove, Hoopa Tribal member, and one of the group's organizers.

Belo Monte would be the world's third largest hydroelectric dam, and its creation would allow for further destructive mining and deforestation practices. It is one of many proposed dams that would devastate the lives and cultures of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people who rely on the Xingu River and other tributaries of the Amazon for sustaining life. This includes some of the world's last un-contacted Indigenous people. The Amazon Basin is approximately the size of the continental United States, and is home to 60 percent of the world's remaining rainforest. It holds one-fifth of the world's fresh water.

Participants of this delegation are part of the diverse coalition of Native and non-Native river activists from Northern California and Southern Oregon who successfully campaigned for the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. Upon completion, this will be the largest dam removal project in world history and is poised to restore one of North America's largest salmon runs. This will allow currently imperiled fisheries to thrive and river people to repair devastated cultures and communities.

According to Mahlija Florendo, Yurok Tribal member and sixteen year old delegation participant "Our river is here to give us life, and we were created to keep the river beautiful and healthy. If we don't fight to keep rivers healthy, then we are killing ourselves, and all other life on the planet. The Amazon River is a huge lifeline for indigenous people in the Xingu Basin just as the Klamath River is for us."

The group includes five youth participants from the Klamath River, ages ranging from fourteen to twenty-two. As well as long time Klamath River advocate and protector Dania Rose Colegrove of the Hoopa Tribe and Nat Pennington, Fisheries Biologist and river advocate. Colegrove and Pennington are also board members of the Klamath Riverkeeper organization based in Northern California. The delegation will also be accompanied by the Brazil Program Coordinator from environmental organization Amazon Watch.

"We are fix the world people, that is why creator put us here on this river, our dances every Fall bring about world renewal. We pray, dance and put the pieces of our damaged but functioning culture back together. This is how we protect this land for future generations. It is not lost on us, the irony of the incredible passion shown by the world's most downtrodden, rising in solidarity to fix the world," stated Sammy Gensaw, 20-year-old Yurok Tribal Member and co-founder of The Ancestral Guard, a Native American youth activist organization, who will be traveling as well.

The Dam Resistance Delegation hopes to encourage indigenous youth throughout the world to join together, speak out, fix what's broken, and protect traditional ways of living harmoniously on planet Earth.

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