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<v Woman>[music] [speaking in Klamath] <v Gordon Bettles>How would you say, 'I am a Klamath Indian'? <v Woman>[Speaking Klamath] <v Gordon Bettles>How would say 'I don't feel very well now'. <v Woman>[Speaking Klamath]. <v Gordon Bettles> It is autumn. <v Woman>Hmm, I forgot that. <v Gordon Bettles>Our language is dying. <v Gordon Bettles>[Woman speaking Klamath] Right now, there are only a few elders who remember. <v Gordon Bettles>And we have to learn from them. <v Gordon Bettles>If we don't save itt, we will lose it forever. <v Gordon Bettles>How would you say, 'I have lived well a long time.' <v Woman>[Speaking Klamath]. <v Host>Every day Gordon Bettles learns a little more from the elders. <v Host>It is a race against time to save the past. <v Host>And at the same time to have a future. <v Host>He's from the Klamath Indian Tribe in southern Oregon, a tribe that today has <v Host>gone from being one of the richest in America to one of the poorest.
<v Host>This happened in just a few short years. <v Host>How it happened took much longer. <v Gordon Bettles>I come here to think. <v Gordon Bettles>We call this place near ?inaudible? or late sun <v Gordon Bettles>rising place. The Klamath people have always come here for answers. <v Gordon Bettles>Once we had land that went from mountain top to mountain top, then the <v Gordon Bettles>white settlers came and wanted to bargain for a treaty. <v Charles Wilkinson>The Klamath went to the bargaining table possessing that <v Charles Wilkinson>23 million acres. They didn't come asking for land. <v Charles Wilkinson>They already had 23 million acres. <v Charles Wilkinson>They didn't come asking for sovereignty. They already had sovereignty. <v Charles Wilkinson>And so the treaty was a transaction in which you had <v Charles Wilkinson>two parties that both possess something and wanted something. <v Host>Attorney and law professor Charles Wilkinson has worked with the tribe for the past 20 <v Host>years. <v Charles Wilkinson>And they worked hard to convince the Klamaths to make that <v Charles Wilkinson>huge land session of, uh, of more than, uh, 21
<v Charles Wilkinson>million acres. And in return, the Klamath were promised in- <v Charles Wilkinson>in really in solemn terms and firm terms <v Charles Wilkinson>of promise that, uh- that they would be able to possess <v Charles Wilkinson>their remaining reservation of 1.9 million acres forever, that it would be their <v Charles Wilkinson>homeland. <v Host>The tribe signed the treaty in 1864 thinking they had a homeland forever. <v Host>For the next 90 years, life didn't change much. <v Host>Selling timber from the forests, farming and ranching gave each of them <v Host>enough money to live on. <v Lynn Schonchin>Most of the people were comfortable. Majority of 'em owned their own homes. <v Lynn Schonchin>There were, uh, small per capita payments coming in on a quarterly basis <v Lynn Schonchin>and then the ability to hunt and fish and augment that. <v Mary Gentry>They lived off the land and were very, very spiritual in <v Mary Gentry>that aspect that they were always grateful and thankful <v Mary Gentry>for the substance of t the mother earth.
<v Mary Gentry>The foods that she provided, the materials that she provided for <v Mary Gentry>everyday living. [music] And it was a glorious <v Mary Gentry>time to- to just be alive and <v Mary Gentry>to live off of what the earth gave. <v Mary Gentry>You never really lacked in what you needed.[music] <v Barbara Alatorre>We had a good amount of, uh- they call 'em suckers, call 'em ?inaudible? <v Barbara Alatorre>in Klamath. <v Barbara Alatorre>There- they had enough deer for anybody to hunt anytime. <v Barbara Alatorre>We had-the Klamath Marsh was full of <v Barbara Alatorre>ducks and geese and fish. We had everything. <v Barbara Alatorre>There is no word to describe what our land was like. <v Barbara Alatorre>It was such a wonderful place that anyone that ever lived there will never <v Barbara Alatorre>forget it. [music]
<v Host>The end of World War II brought a new attitude to America. <v Host>The long period of hardship was over. <v Host>Eisenhower and Nixon. No more war. <v Host>And the American Dream. <v Host>Civil rights of minorities were being questioned. <v Host>People began to wonder if there was opportunity and equality for all. <v Host>For the Klamath Indians, opportunity and equality meant their government was planning <v Host>to change their lives. <v Mark Hatfield>Don't forget at this time there was a new wave of interest in Civil <v Mark Hatfield>Rights and the idea of segregation as <v Mark Hatfield>it related to the blacks had a negative ring to those
<v Mark Hatfield>of us who were involved in the Civil Rights program. <v Mark Hatfield>And I suppose those in the Federal Congress and in the Federal Administration <v Mark Hatfield>not ascribing evil intent, but rather perhaps even sort of picking up on the <v Mark Hatfield>idea that integration is preferred and segregation <v Mark Hatfield>is wrong. And therefore the Indians or the blacks as <v Mark Hatfield>minorities within our society being segregated on a reservation or <v Mark Hatfield>in a ghetto ought to be brought into the mainstream Americanized <v Mark Hatfield>and remove the discrimination. <v Host>President Eisenhower pressured Congress to get the government out of the Indian business. <v Host>They began working on a bill to end all government supervision of Indian tribes <v Host>called Termination of Supervision. <v Host>Termination was a word that would cast a shadow over American Indians forever. <v Mark Hatfield>It was before we thought of Indians as a nation. <v Mark Hatfield>We were thinking of them as tribal- primitive tribal people
<v Mark Hatfield>to be welfare of responsibilities for the rest of us. <v Mark Hatfield>So in that context, the Indian didn't have very much hope, <v Mark Hatfield>much to look forward to. <v Host>A congressional subcommittee held hearings to decide how to begin termination. <v Host>This committee was led by Senator Arthur Watkins from Utah. <v Charles Wilkinson>Watkins may well fit into the category of people <v Charles Wilkinson>who, uh, believe themselves sincerely to be <v Charles Wilkinson>supporters of Indians. <v Charles Wilkinson>And what is tragic is that Watkins, who was so strong minded, <v Charles Wilkinson>really never stopped to consult with Indian people, never really stopped <v Charles Wilkinson>to reassess his belief that that extreme assimilation <v Charles Wilkinson>policy in the form of termination might well be extraordinarily <v Charles Wilkinson>destructive. And it's really a wonder isn't it that- that somehow <v Charles Wilkinson>it would become official government policy that it would be in the benefit of
<v Charles Wilkinson>a group of people to sell off all their land. <v Karen Ray>I remember the day we went to general counsel, <v Karen Ray>my mother and I, we always went to the general counsel meetings there at the Klamath <v Karen Ray>Agency on Highway 62. <v Karen Ray>The meeting was about termination, whether the people wanted <v Karen Ray>it or not. It was an overwhelmingly no. <v Karen Ray>They did not want termination. <v Karen Ray>The leaders of our tribe were to go back to Washington, D.C. <v Karen Ray>and tell 'em, no, we did not want termination. <v Karen Ray>What happened then I do not know. <v Rayson Tupper>It was brought to the council twice, and was voted down twice, you know, <v Rayson Tupper>and, uh, so they- they did it on their own. <v Barbara Alatorre>If it's really something really important, that executive committee will study <v Barbara Alatorre>it and bring it back to the council for a vote. <v Barbara Alatorre>So, we kind of depended on our council for everything.
<v Barbara Alatorre>Not all of us could sit in hearings and talk. <v Barbara Alatorre>You know, just certain ones were elected to speak. <v Host>Leaders of the tribe testified, trying to stop the legislation. <v Host>Boyd Jackson from the Klamath tribe faced Senator Watkins in what was a typical exchange. <v Senator Arthur Watkins>The Japanese say that a man who has always carried soon loses the power <v Senator Arthur Watkins>of his own legs. <v Boyd Jackson>I don't know that one. <v Senator Arthur Watkins>In other words, nobody can walk for you. <v Senator Arthur Watkins>You have to do your own walking. <v Senator Arthur Watkins>And the only way you can learn to walk is to use your own limbs. <v Senator Arthur Watkins>The only way you can learn to manage these matters is by managing them. <v Senator Arthur Watkins>The United States, this guardian of yours, says you ought to go on <v Senator Arthur Watkins>with the job. <v Boyd Jackson>All the things you say are true, but it reminds me of a passage in the scriptures. <v Boyd Jackson>Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart <v Boyd Jackson>from it. Now, do you think we have reached that point?
<v Senator Arthur Watkins>I think we have trained you. <v Senator Arthur Watkins>And if we have not trained you, well you'd better get another trainer. <v Lynn Schonchin>My estimation, Senator Watkins is a very rude individual. <v Lynn Schonchin>When I look at what his statements were, depending on what side of the fence you were on, <v Lynn Schonchin>of course, and why he pushed so hard, I don't know. <v Lynn Schonchin>What- what was within his agenda or- or whatever, <v Lynn Schonchin>but he- he was a type of individual who was using <v Lynn Schonchin>force and threats. <v Charles Wilkinson>Watkins was very hard on Indian witnesses. <v Charles Wilkinson>And there are two explanations for that. <v Charles Wilkinson>One is that he may have been a person <v Charles Wilkinson>who was doing evil, knew he was doing evil, and and was just browbeating <v Charles Wilkinson>witnesses for that reason. And he did browbeat them. <v Charles Wilkinson>On the other hand, it may be that he was an impatient man who thought he knew <v Charles Wilkinson>right, and thought that other people were misguided.
<v Host>Efforts of tribal delegates to prevent or at least delay <v Host>passage of the termination bill failed. <v Host>And in August of 1954, Public Law 587 calling for <v Host>termination of the Klamath tribe became law. <v Host>Passed without the consent of the Indians, the termination law gave each tribe <v Host>member 3 years to make a decision that would not just affect them, it <v Host>would affect all future generations forever. <v Charles Wilkinson>There is no question that the Klamath people were mightily <v Charles Wilkinson>confused by the choices that were presented to them, and the Klamath were given <v Charles Wilkinson>a choice on whether they wanted to receive a cash payment for their land <v Charles Wilkinson>or to become remaining members, whatever that meant. <v Charles Wilkinson>There was no mechanism for the tribe to be able to remain together as <v Charles Wilkinson>an as an Indian tribe. <v Charles Wilkinson>No mechanism for tribal members to be able to receive land rather
<v Charles Wilkinson>than cash. <v Charles Wilkinson>And I imagine that <v Charles Wilkinson>if somehow a person could quantify the difficulty of societal <v Charles Wilkinson>choices that individual people have to make- have ever been asked <v Charles Wilkinson>to make in history, I cannot imagine one <v Charles Wilkinson>much more overbearing and- and difficult <v Charles Wilkinson>than the one that Klamath Indians were made as whether they wanted to become withdrawn <v Charles Wilkinson>members or remaining members. <v Edison Chiloquin>We couldn't understand it very well. <v Edison Chiloquin>See, I'm not educated like the rest of these young people or- <v Edison Chiloquin>I quit school during the war years and never did go back to school. <v Edison Chiloquin>But what I could understand, I- <v Edison Chiloquin>I knew it wasn't very good. <v Edison Chiloquin>Said it would be the end of the supervision of the government.
<v Edison Chiloquin>So we had one section of the tribe that remained and the other could withdraw, <v Edison Chiloquin>receive their money and withdraw. <v Edison Chiloquin>And that's the way it was. <v Rayson Tupper>My grand folks was there, heard my grandfather. <v Rayson Tupper>And he decided that we all should <v Rayson Tupper>withdraw. <v Rayson Tupper>And, uh, he would remain here with my grandmother. <v Rayson Tupper>So that's, uh- that's what, uh, went on. <v Rayson Tupper>But, uh, as I said, nobody really understood what went on. <v Knowlton Merritt>I remember there was a lot of visiting going on in different families. <v Knowlton Merritt>We would gather and we would go <v Knowlton Merritt>to different ranches and have big meetings, family <v Knowlton Merritt>meetings on this.
<v Knowlton Merritt>And it was pretty emotional, I mean <v Knowlton Merritt>for the older people. The younger kids didn't understand it, <v Knowlton Merritt>didn't understand what was going to happen to the land. <v Tom McCall>Viewpoints crew, producer- director Frank Opera, cameraman Ronnie <v Tom McCall>Dobson and I found the election to be the center of the <v Tom McCall>torrent of doubt and conflict brought on by terminations and its efforts <v Host> This early news film produced by a Portland television station in early 1956 <v Host>documented leaders of the Klamath tribe in their final attempt to change the termination <v Host>law. <v Dibbon Cook>We have a big responsibility on our shoulders as parents <v Dibbon Cook>and making an electon for ourselves as well as the children.
<v Dibbon Cook>We don't know that someday those children may say, "Why didn't you make an election <v Dibbon Cook>for me?' <v Host>Public Law 587 provided for three advisors called management specialists, <v Host>appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, who would work with the tribe in carrying <v Host>out the Termination Act. <v Host>Here in the files of the National Archives, letters written to Tom Waters, <v Host>one of the management specialists, show the confusion of the Indians. <v Letter 1>Mr. Waters, I have read the Klamath bill over and over, and it seems to me no matter <v Letter 1>which way you vote, you are still not free. <v Letter 1>It is with a sad feeling that this letter goes from me. <v Letter 2>What do you mean about being out of the tribe? <v Letter 2>Please let me know as soon as you can. <v Letter 2>I don't want to give up my tribe for anyone. <v Host>The management specialists had to find out what the reservation was worth so that <v Host>each tribe member would know how much money to expect if they withdrew <v Host>and what would be left for them if they remained.
<v Host>Newsletters from the management specialists were confusing and seemed to encourage <v Host>leaving the tribe. <v Speaker>Members who choose to remain in the tribe and participate in a management plan must face <v Speaker>the facts. Investment in timber managed on a sustained yield basis <v Speaker>is not a good investment. <v Speaker>Income will amount to approximately one half of the present per capita payments. <v Host>And in a letter from Specialist Waters to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, <v Tom Waters>It is even questionable whether the federal government as present trustees, <v Tom Waters>should allow any person to remain in such a venture. <v Host>Stanford University was hired by the management specialists to help come up with a <v Host>business plan for the remaining members. <v Host>They found that 70 percent of the tribe plan to withdraw, which meant 70 percent <v Host>of the land would have to be sold to give them the cash, estimated at 50,000 <v Host>dollars each. <v Host>It was cash that they were not equipped to keep. <v Charles Wilkinson>What termination did and the Stanford research report in 1956
<v Charles Wilkinson>predicted this almost exactly was that when you take away the timber, <v Charles Wilkinson>you take away the tribal mill, you take away the payments and now expect <v Charles Wilkinson>people to have an income on their own, and in the meantime, <v Charles Wilkinson>give them a large cash payment, which theoretically they could invest, but they didn't <v Charles Wilkinson>have the tools to invest that the whole thing's blown apart. <v Charles Wilkinson>And it was. Termination was- was not much less thana - than a bomb <v Charles Wilkinson>dropped in the middle of that society. <v Charles Wilkinson>It never could have worked. <v Charles Wilkinson>But the train had already left the station. <v Host>Business leaders in Klamath Falls feared that a quick sale of Indian forests would <v Host>depress the local lumber business, hoping to change the law at the last minute, <v Host>they publicly supported the Indians. <v Host>Newspaper editor Frank Jenkins. <v Frank Jenkins>The disastrous effect will be on the economy of the Indians themselves. <v Frank Jenkins>It's their timber. They own it. ?Once sold for, they'll get? And again, if this body of timber is sold on the market, it's a fire sale, the highest bidder. What ever it'll be, it
<v Frank Jenkins>isn't going to be as much in this market as it ought to bring. <v Frank Jenkins>And so in that event, the loser will be <v Frank Jenkins>the Indians. And we don't think down here that the Indians ought to absorb that <v Frank Jenkins>staggering loss because it could be staggering. <v Host>In spite of all the advice from the management specialists, the fears of the business <v Host>community, and the efforts by the tribe's leaders to change the termination law, <v Host>public law 587 was in effect and was about to be enforced. <v Lynn Schonchin>The tribe in the only votes that they had concerning it voted against <v Lynn Schonchin>it. And there was never any approval of the tribe for termination. <v Lynn Schonchin>Congress went ahead and enacted the policy, and you had two choices, <v Lynn Schonchin>you either withdrew or remained, and, uh, that was the choices
<v Lynn Schonchin>we were forced into because the policy was going to go through <v Lynn Schonchin>no matter what. <v Irwin Weiser>My mother, she didn't say anything or anything. <v Irwin Weiser>But I had my children and one of my boys, <v Irwin Weiser>he said that- talking about it, he said 'I'm not going to withdraw,' he said and so. <v Irwin Weiser>'Well,' I say, 'it's up to you.' I said, 'Whatever you want to do.' I said- I <v Irwin Weiser>said, 'I don't want to either.' But I said, 'I'm going to have to see it through because <v Irwin Weiser>a lot of people are doing it, you know, and I'll seeing what <v Irwin Weiser>happens.' And I never- I never did like it, you know, <v Irwin Weiser>I didn't want to withdraw. And like they said, I was going to <v Irwin Weiser>lose our whole- whole land. <v Albert Summers>The only thing that we ever got was a protest, a just <v Albert Summers>a flat no. You know, we just didn't want to even think about <v Albert Summers>selling any part of- maybe a tree, but not our home, you know, not the properties
<v Albert Summers>that we was raised on. You know. <v Barbara Alatorre>Nobody ever said it was going to be the end of the reservation. <v Barbara Alatorre>You know, like a lot of them didn't know that. <v Barbara Alatorre>It was just that my mother wanted us all to be remaining members, <v Barbara Alatorre>and we didn't want to be because we didn't know what <v Barbara Alatorre>the difference was. We wanted that money right now. <v Barbara Alatorre>We were kids, teenagers. <v Barbara Alatorre>I was a teenager when that happened. <v Barbara Alatorre>So, just the younger people talking to each other about the <v Barbara Alatorre>money only. They didn't know what was happening to the reservation. <v Barbara Alatorre>We thought it was some kind of a big timber sale. <v Host> In April of 1958, the final votes were counted. <v Host>1,440 members voted to withdraw, 473 remained. <v Host>In a news film shown on the day of the vote, Tom McCall, then a television news reporter, <v Host>was critical of the choice given the Indians.
<v Tom McCall>A great many of the Indians voted to sell out. <v Tom McCall>And that is- what is what they decided to do to liquidate the reservation. <v Tom McCall>But rather, they did not vote positively. <v Tom McCall>They voted for the lesser of two evils. <v Tom McCall>Their choice lay between taking an undetermined amount <v Tom McCall>of cash for their heritage and the heritage of their children still unborn. <v Tom McCall>That on the one hand and on the other, voting to hang on, to hang <v Tom McCall>on as part of a nebulous management entity that promised very little <v Tom McCall>in the way of future security. <v Host>The land for the remaining members went into a trust that was run by the U.S. <v Host>Bank of Oregon. <v Host>For those who withdrew, it was another 3 years before they would actually get the money <v Host>ironically, on April 1st of 1961. <v Host>Each man, woman and child who withdrew now had over 40,000 dollars. <v Mark Hatfield>I remember I was governor and there were dire predictions
<v Mark Hatfield>made about these Indians getting that cash and being fleeced from it <v Mark Hatfield>very quickly. You cannot take someone who has never been given opportunity <v Mark Hatfield>or the right or the privilege to call their own self destiny and all of a <v Mark Hatfield>sudden hand them the symbol of power and the symbol of purchasing <v Mark Hatfield>and expect them to listen to wise words <v Mark Hatfield>from someone who had never even seen them before probably, or had no relationship to them <v Mark Hatfield>or little. And so it was disaster. <v Lynn Schonchin>I think, for anybody that would seem like a lot of money at that time. <v Lynn Schonchin>In 1960, 48,000 dollars was <v Lynn Schonchin>a fair amount of money. But when you look at that <v Lynn Schonchin>in reality, buy a home, furnish <v Lynn Schonchin>it, buy you a car, and it's time to go to work. <v Lynn Schonchin>[laughter] It's gone.
<v Rachel Hamilton>A lot of what I remember the most is, um, <v Rachel Hamilton>people living a pretty high lifestyle <v Rachel Hamilton>for a few months or a year or whatever, and then <v Rachel Hamilton>looking like they're on top of the world and all of a sudden becoming leveled, <v Rachel Hamilton>even worse than they were before, worse off. <v Rachel Hamilton>It was like they got used to a certain lifestyle, being able <v Rachel Hamilton>to go places, do things, whatever they wanted. <v Rachel Hamilton>Then when the money ran out, they were stuck at home. <v Rachel Hamilton>Pretty soon they started selling off the things that they bought with the money. <v Rachel Hamilton>Not everybody but that's the majority of what I saw. <v Edison Chiloquin>A lot of 'em never had money before, so they went right through <v Edison Chiloquin>like my brothers. I had three <v Edison Chiloquin>brothers that took the money. <v Edison Chiloquin>And, well it's the first time they're had that <v Edison Chiloquin>much before so.
<v Edison Chiloquin>It didn't last too long. <v Barbara Kirk-Bravo>It wasn't very long and they were broke, you know, <v Barbara Kirk-Bravo>they- nobody knew anything about <v Barbara Kirk-Bravo>investing. A lot of them did buy houses, though. <v Barbara Kirk-Bravo>That was a good investment for a lot 'em. <v Barbara Kirk-Bravo>But then it it turned around, they lost 'em for taxes <v Barbara Kirk-Bravo>because they didn't have no way to pay the taxes. <v Charles Wilkinson>You saw an avariciousness in the local society just to <v Charles Wilkinson>grab that Klamath money, probably inevitable. <v Charles Wilkinson>I don't think the merchants of Klamath Falls were any worse people than <v Charles Wilkinson>you would have anywhere else. But it's a maybe an inevitable byproduct of our economic <v Charles Wilkinson>system. When you have large payments to people who are not schooled <v Charles Wilkinson>in how to handle that money, you're gonna have people <v Charles Wilkinson>move in. <v Speaker>I remember one young lady come in, and it was in <v Speaker>a regular paper sack, 35,000 dollars worth. <v Speaker>She bought a new car from me, paid for it in a hundred dollar bills.
<v Albert Summers>It was really a pathetic story. It was a pathetic sight to see these people walking down <v Albert Summers>the street to that kind of money hanging out of their pockets, maybe. <v Albert Summers>And, uh, people there with very, very willing hands <v Albert Summers>to get everything they could. <v Albert Summers>And like I said before, it ain't only the Indian people who's really suffering. <v Albert Summers>This community is suferring. Well, you hear Klamath Falls crying every day, <v Albert Summers>every day. Every school that an Indian kid went to, they got- <v Albert Summers>they got reimbursed for. They got- they got- they got paid for. <v Albert Summers>Every school building that was built, you know, this side of 1940-50, <v Albert Summers>Indian people on the Klamath Indian reservation has had their hands in it through their <v Albert Summers>funds. So it's-it's- it's a hard thing, you know, and <v Albert Summers>it's awfully hard to get up in the morning and walk down the road being an Indian. <v Barbara Alatorre>Our money was really gone <v Barbara Alatorre>sooner than it should have because we had to pay higher prices
<v Barbara Alatorre>for cars. We had to pay higher- They raised the prices in the stores <v Barbara Alatorre>just because we were Klamath Indians and got a check. <v Host>As the withdrawing members saw their cash disappearing, remaining members, <v Host>ones who chose to live on what was left of the reservation, learned that they were now <v Host>under a trust run by the U.S. <v Host>Bank of Oregon. <v Host>Ray Lung the president of the bank at the time remembers. <v Ray Lung>The way the U.S. bank became involved was that the government went out <v Ray Lung>and asked for bids. <v Ray Lung>Actually, what they were looking for was the lowest annual fee <v Ray Lung>for the specified services. <v Ray Lung>And I think there was only 2 banks that bid, and we were the <v Ray Lung>low bidder. Our fee I think was about 93,000 dollars a year <v Ray Lung>for managing the tribal asset of about 23 million dollars, <v Ray Lung>about 145,000 acres of land, primarily timber,
<v Ray Lung>grazing lands, cattle, other miscellaneous property. <v Host>It was a simple business deal to the bank, but to the Indians it was frustrating <v Host>and confusing. <v Speaker>We was put under trust, and, uh, we had to go <v Speaker>up and talk to a trust officer. <v Speaker>And he was- he would tell you yes or no. <v Speaker>You know, whether you was to get your money or not, you know. <v Speaker>Whether it was for clothes or to-to <v Speaker>go to school or whatever, you know. <v Speaker>And you never did see any money. <v Speaker>He would just- he would make the phone call to whoever and they would Ok it <v Speaker>or not OK it, you know. <v Speaker>And, uh, there was a lot of times, you know, that we just didn't have any. <v Ray Lung>But we had, you know, situations where- where families were dependent <v Ray Lung>as they had been before termination on the per capita checks, not only <v Ray Lung>for themselves, but for their children. So, you know, you and your wife might be
<v Ray Lung>members and your four kids might be members, and you'd go to the agency every quarter <v Ray Lung>or whenever they made that payment, and you'd pick up the payments for the whole family. <v Ray Lung>And that's what you were living on. But when that terminated- see, that stopped when the <v Ray Lung>when the banks were appointed as the trustees. <v Ray Lung>They had to come in and justify to the trustee that <v Ray Lung>those kind of payments should continue. <v Barbara Alatorre>Everyone said you'll get a lot of money. <v Barbara Alatorre>But when the checks came. <v Barbara Alatorre>All of our money was in,uh- mine was in the First National Bank, and you couldn't get any <v Barbara Alatorre>of it out if you needed clothes or anything. <v Barbara Alatorre>You ask for your own money. They act like you were trying to borrow some money from the <v Barbara Alatorre>bank or something. They'd quarrel and fight you over your own money if you needed any. <v Ray Lung>I mean, you always kind of set up, you know, very often in an adversary <v Ray Lung>situation with a trust because you got somebody standing between you and your money. <v Charles Wilkinson>The problem is that it was outrageous that we ever did have a bank
<v Charles Wilkinson>chosen to somehow be the overseer or the trustee <v Charles Wilkinson>for a group of tribal Indians. It never made any sense. <v Charles Wilkinson>It was always inevitable that the tribal members, the remaining members, when they <v Charles Wilkinson>had their choice after 10 years, were gonna vote to dissolve the trust because they <v Charles Wilkinson>wouldn't like the trust. Of course, they wouldn't like having their ancestral land <v Charles Wilkinson>managed by a bank. <v Host>Frustrated with the bank, the remaining members voted to end the trust. <v Albert Summers>We thought we were terminating the deal with the bank. <v Albert Summers>We didn't know that the government was going to step in here and say, 'Hey, <v Albert Summers>Mr. Indian, we're taking this property, and you're going to take this money, <v Albert Summers>whether you like it or not.' <v Host>What they didn't realize was that meant the bank had to sell the last of the reservation <v Host>and give them cash. <v Host>The final 135,000 acres slipped from their grasp and became <v Host>national forest land.
<v Host>And so after these few short years, the money was spent, most of the cars <v Host>and houses were gone. The reservation land was now owned by the government. <v Host>The Klamaths faced an uncertain future, and it was a future where they would no <v Host>longer be called Indians. <v Mark Hatfield>We were saying, in effect, under termination, you're no longer Indians. <v Mark Hatfield>That's really what we were saying to them. You're gonna be homogenized into the general <v Mark Hatfield>society of America and you're just gonna be Americans. <v Mark Hatfield>Not even original Americans or early Americans [laughter] or Indians, just Americans. <v Karen Ray>That was the most devastating point. <v Karen Ray>They said that one day, uh- someone told us that <v Karen Ray>we weren't Indians anymore. <v Karen Ray>Well, how can we not be Indians? <v Karen Ray>That's what we are. This like an Irishman. <v Karen Ray>How can you tell an Irishman he's not an Irishman if he leaves Ireland? <v Albert Summers>You can't change what you are. <v Albert Summers>And yhat's what termination hurt too. <v Albert Summers>It really hurt us, you know, took our
<v Albert Summers>Indian culture away from us. <v Albert Summers>Of course, what it really took away was our identity. <v Albert Summers>You know, we was- we was a bunch of Indians in Oregon, central <v Albert Summers>Oregon here that didn't have no home. <v Albert Summers>We didn't have no name. We didn't have no identity. <v Albert Summers>We would just uh- [laughter] I don't know what the word is, but we were just a bunch of <v Albert Summers>people here with nothing. <v Rayson Tupper>My brothers and I were talking about that. <v Rayson Tupper>I don't know what what they mean by, 'We're not Indians' or be terminated, you know. <v Rayson Tupper>But I said in my mind, 'I'm always going to be an Indian.' And <v Rayson Tupper>they felt the same way. <v Rayson Tupper>We would go to rodeos, and at some of the rodeos, you <v Rayson Tupper>have to be an enrolled tribal member of a federally recognized <v Rayson Tupper>tribe. They didn't recognize the Klamath. <v Rayson Tupper>And here I am sitting on my horse wanting to get into a rodeo, an
<v Rayson Tupper>Indian rodeo, and they wouldn't let us in. <v Rayson Tupper>So that was something I felt was really wrong because I was thinking in my mind, if I'm <v Rayson Tupper>not an Indian, then what am I? <v Rayson Tupper>And- because I'm not a white person. <v Rayson Tupper>I'm not a Japanese person or whatever. <v Barbara Alatorre>People made fun of us for being Klamath Indians. <v Barbara Alatorre>[cough] A lot of them said we were sellouts and called us white <v Barbara Alatorre>people. <v Barbara Kirk-Bravo>We really lost a lot when they took that away from us. <v Barbara Kirk-Bravo>Myself, I never did feel that I wasn't an Indian or anything like that, but it did <v Barbara Kirk-Bravo>make a lot of people feel that way. <v Barbara Kirk-Bravo>They just said, well, I'm not an Indian anymore. <v Barbara Kirk-Bravo>[laughter] <v Host>As the years went by, the Klamaths had to face that they had lost their land. <v Host>They had lost their money, and they had lost their identity. <v Host>The Klamath's problems grew worse. <v Knowlton Merritt>The only thing that I can see that the monetary figure had done for
<v Knowlton Merritt>my people. And that's to make them instinct. <v Knowlton Merritt>Since termination, I've- <v Knowlton Merritt>I'd say about the first 5, 10 years I went to a lot of <v Knowlton Merritt>funerals. I buried my whole family. <v Knowlton Merritt>There was a lot of alcoholism. And later on, drugs came into the scene. <v Knowlton Merritt>It had taken my family, and my graveyards, and it filled them up. <v Barbara Alatorre>I did a lot of drinking and drugs. <v Barbara Alatorre>And I know over half of our tribe is dead because <v Barbara Alatorre>of the termination policy. There was some kind of a survey made where <v Barbara Alatorre>they found out that our- half of our tribe living in Klamath County died <v Barbara Alatorre>before they reach age 40. <v Mary Gentry>This is all a part of what termination did to the Klamath people. <v Mary Gentry>So much is- is not the same anymore.
<v Mary Gentry>But the land is hurting. The animals are hurting. <v Mary Gentry>The water is hurting. And all because it was all taken from <v Mary Gentry>us and out of our care, and out of our stewardship, and being, uh, so totally <v Mary Gentry>abused. And- and I cry and cry inside. <v Mary Gentry>I cry for what is not there anymore. <v Mary Gentry>[music] <v Albert Summers>My grandchildren's children will never, ever see any part of that <v Albert Summers>kind of a life. They'll never have the opportunity to go down to the river and catch one <v Albert Summers>of them big old Towong Fish for their grandmother, take home to cook. <v Albert Summers>They'll never see that.s And the boys will never get a chance to go out <v Albert Summers>on the hill and on their horse and shoot a deer. <v Albert Summers>I don't think they'll see that back again- even close to what <v Albert Summers>it was when I was a boy. [music] <v Charles Wilkinson>To understand the current impact of termination, you don't need to go
<v Charles Wilkinson>any further than to look at- at the basic social and economic <v Charles Wilkinson>situation of- of the Klamath people. <v Charles Wilkinson>You have a society in desperation, one that was self-sufficient and <v Charles Wilkinson>in its own terms before terminationm and one that <v Charles Wilkinson>today is- is just bankrupt in terms <v Charles Wilkinson>of day-to-day needs. <v Charles Wilkinson>And- and- and- and burdened with, uh, problems that <v Charles Wilkinson>have a magnitude that I think most people in this country don't even begin to understand. <v Charles Wilkinson>[music] <v Host>In the early 1970s, something began to stir. <v Host>The Klamaths knew that if the tribe was to survive they would have to begin to save <v Host>themselves. With time running out, they began to talk. <v Host>[music] What the Klamaths wanted was to have the government once again recognize them as
<v Host>a tribe. This would bring in money to begin their recovery. <v Host>They called it restoration. <v Gordon Bettles>The tribe's focus turned <v Gordon Bettles>once again to the establishment of a tribal government. <v Gordon Bettles>Not to prove it to the white folk or the- or the- or society in general, <v Gordon Bettles>but to prove to ourselves that we had not been wiped out. <v Gordon Bettles>We as a people had survived. <v Gordon Bettles>Once that nucleus was put, put back into our hearts, then, uh, <v Gordon Bettles>we- then the tribe started moving forward towards making plans for <v Gordon Bettles>restoration. <v Host>In a small office of an abandoned lumber mill, the tribe started to organize <v Host>and work together toward restoration. <v Host>Tribal chairman Chuck Kimball remembers what it was like. <v Chuck Kimball>And to me, you have to think positive. <v Chuck Kimball>And I have a saying, you know, 'I don't look back.' I'll never forget.
<v Chuck Kimball>But you got a look ahead. <v Chuck Kimball>You know, you got to lay a foundation today and hopefully <v Chuck Kimball>build a structure that's gonna lead in to tomorrow for your <v Chuck Kimball>children and your grandchildren. <v Mark Hatfield>I think out of that experience things got so bad <v Mark Hatfield>and things were so bad at that point as to our fulfillment of responsibilities <v Mark Hatfield>to any fellow human beings or any fellow citizens, let alone the <v Mark Hatfield>Indian Americans that we had taken the land from, that people began <v Mark Hatfield>to sort of say, let's- let's look at this situation. <v Mark Hatfield>Some wise voices came into the picture. <v Mark Hatfield>Indians began to demand more of their rights that they should have been given. <v Gordon Bettles>Restoration brought to full consciousness <v Gordon Bettles>in the Klamath tribe, the fact that <v Gordon Bettles>the tribe had suffered a wrong. <v Gordon Bettles>And that there was an admittance of guilt and that we
<v Gordon Bettles>had not lost our identity. <v Host>And so 30 years after the experiment called termination first touched this small group, <v Host>the government again recognized the Klamaths as a tribe. <v Host>They now had a way to start their recovery. <v Lynn Schonchin>It was really uplifting during restoration when it happened, <v Lynn Schonchin>and we had a restoration celebration here. <v Lynn Schonchin>And the feeling that was going on there, it was hard to describe. <v Lynn Schonchin>You know, the people were so happy and cohesive, <v Lynn Schonchin>and it was- it was just- it was a feeling that, uh, <v Lynn Schonchin>we'll probably never have again. <v Lynn Schonchin>You know, we'll never have that feeling again, but it was- it was so neat. <v Lynn Schonchin>And, uh- and where we're at now, you know, we're- we're <v Lynn Schonchin>a baby again. <v Lynn Schonchin>And we're struggling. But we're going to get there. <v Speaker>So restoration took place in '86, and it was- a it was a- great moment for Congress.
<v Speaker>It- it was the worst termination, well over 100 tribes were terminated. <v Speaker>And I think the Klamath lost more than any other tribe. <v Speaker>And to have finally Congress admit termination was wrong, <v Speaker>I think was a great moment and- and really speaks to <v Speaker>the greatness of our society when we're able to do things right, when we take the time <v Speaker>and and really look at the essence of things. <v Speaker>And so I see restoration in that category. <v Speaker>But= but restoration for the Klamath wasn't really restoration. <v Speaker>It was just a start. And there won't be restoration <v Speaker>for the Klamath tribe in- in any fair sense <v Speaker>until that land is returned to the tribe. <v Speaker>They will not be made whole until that occurs. <v Gordon Bettles>The Klamath tribe, in order to survive, <v Gordon Bettles>needs to be recognized as the steward of these
<v Gordon Bettles>lands. <v Gordon Bettles>The tribe needs a land base not only to heal <v Gordon Bettles>what's been done, but to develop a way to coexist <v Gordon Bettles>with the world both economically and socially. <v Host>Returning land to the tribe is what the Klamath believe will finally put an end to <v Host>what termination has meant to them. <v Speaker>The government made a big mistake by looking at Indians and seeing that they had cut <v Speaker>their hair and that they were now wearing 3 piece suits and ties and boots <v Speaker>and speaking the language and learning how to count to 5 and multiply <v Speaker>and all this. They made the big mistake of assuming that Indians were indeed <v Speaker>like white people, whereas they could not see on the inside and see the <v Speaker>Indian person on the inside was not changed at all. <v Speaker>We are connected to the Mother Earth. The Mother Earth feeds us. <v Speaker>We go back to the Mother Earth. [music] <v Barbara Alatorre>The Klamath Indians are special people.
<v Barbara Alatorre>No matter what the government did to us, we always remain Klamath. <v Barbara Alatorre>I still feel close to the land. <v Barbara Alatorre>It's still part of me, and I want my children <v Barbara Alatorre>to know what that is like. <v Edison Chiloquin>It would be nice if most of the Indian people <v Edison Chiloquin>were- Understand more of their own ways <v Edison Chiloquin>as their ancestors. <v Edison Chiloquin>Leave the city behind and come out here and you know really feel it. <v Edison Chiloquin>[music] <v Irwin Weiser>[Speaking Klamath] That's <v Irwin Weiser>what I just said, and that we shouldn't give this land up. <v Mary Gentry>It's a heart. <v Mary Gentry>It's a spirituality. It's- it's a connection to-
<v Mary Gentry>to the land of being a people that have been here and <v Mary Gentry>have always been here. Generation after generation after generation. <v Mary Gentry>I'm speaking of thousands and thousands and thousands of years. <v Mary Gentry>Our legends and our stories have us created here, created <v Mary Gentry>right here in this basin. We never wandered in. <v Mary Gentry>We didn't traverse. <v Mary Gentry>We wern't moved. Fortunately for us, we weren't moved, but we've been <v Mary Gentry>allowed to be here. And there's a connection here. <v Mary Gentry>This is home. And when I say this is home, I don't mean just my house here. <v Mary Gentry>I mean from mountain top to mountain top is home. <v Gordon Bettles>The Klamath had character. <v Gordon Bettles>That was all that was left and the personal histories of who we <v Gordon Bettles>were and where we came from. It is not in the makeup to go out <v Gordon Bettles>and cause revenge to happen, but rather to rise above
<v Gordon Bettles>it, to go around it and put it away. <v Gordon Bettles>And hopefully create ways. <v Gordon Bettles>So that will never happen to your children or grandchildren. <v Gordon Bettles>Hopefully you make the wisest decision. [music]
Your Land, My Land
Producing Organization
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Contributing Organization
Oregon Public Broadcasting (Portland, Oregon)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Program Description
This documentary examines the history of the Klamath Native American tribe and the demise of its Klamath Indian Reservation. Interviews with tribesmen illustrate the consequences of this development, from cultural to economic.
Created Date
Copyright Date
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Local Communities
Race and Ethnicity
1991 Oregon Public Broadcasting
Media type
Moving Image
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Associate Producer: Suinn, Lisa
Editor: Suinn, Lisa
Narrator: Lyman, Will
Producer: Ramsey, Reagan
Producing Organization: Oregon Public Broadcasting
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)
Identifier: 113237.0 (Unique ID)
Format: Digital Betacam
Generation: Original
Duration: 00:44:57:00
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: 91057dct-arch (Peabody Object Identifier)
Format: U-matic
Duration: 00:45:00
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Chicago: “Your Land, My Land,” 1991-11-20, Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 30, 2023,
MLA: “Your Land, My Land.” 1991-11-20. Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 30, 2023. <>.
APA: Your Land, My Land. Boston, MA: Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from