A typescript document addressed to the Committee on Indian Affairs of the U.S. Senate about ownership of water rights on the Yakama Indian Reservation (page 3)
Speech by Louis Mann. Included are other Yakama delegates George Meninock, Frank Seelatsee, James Wahlahee, Thomas Sam, Thomas Weyallup.
This is an example that identifies one of the ongoing conflicts Plateau people face(d) throughout the Northwest in use of their natural resources. This one involves water rights and the initiation of the "Wapato Project Canal." This was an appeal before the Indian Committee on Indian Affairs, United States Senate in February of 1923. Vivian Adams, Yakama
Plateau people were never farmers, they used the bounty of Mother Earth grown naturally. Long ago when the Creator first made Mother Earth, we Human People, the Plateau people were taught by the Animal People. They taught us how to give thanks, show respect and never take more than we need of the foods we were given. They taught us prayer songs of thanks and honor and to treat with respect our fellow creatures, some who gave over their lives to help us sustain life. The Animal People taught us to give thanks for what we receive by giving seasonal feasts for the foods offered during their growing time. On reservations Plateau people had to learn a new way of livelihood because hunting and fishing were became limited. To the Indians It seemed unfair for the White Man to make them pay for water that in the past they used freely on the lands now "owned" and lived on by white people. This appeal speaks to the dramatic lifestyle changes Plateau people had to make in a new cash economy. They believed they were ruled by the laws of strangers that seemed made to restricted and make demands on only the Indians.Mr.Mann's passionate appeal was of a man wronged, an Indian man who tried to live by the laws made by white men. But he was constantly battling water loss, cattle rustling, and land theft.He writes: "Irrigation water is the most important factor in crop production anywhere...That the earth and water all time here, but me and all of us short time here on this earth. And why not let poor people like me and my people live right like moneyed people do, from generation to generations we lived by hunting and fishing and when we abandoned hunting and fishing, we started making our living by farming with irrigation since the year 1878.Water issues are still troubling for Indian reservation land owners. Many of them gave up the struggle and leased their lands to white farmers solely for lease income. However, allotted lands may sometimes have so many owners, leases bring very little when divided into hundreds of a percent. I am not a land owner so I don't know what is paid at the "fair market value" for land leases on our reservation. I wonder if that appraisal has improved for the benefit of Indian landowners yet because they used to receive cents on the dollar only? Vivian M. Adams, Yakama