Effective Tools for Law Enforcement on Saving the Mekong River and the Tribes Communities

By: Ly Quoc Dang, Vietnam

#YSEALI #ProFellows

Today, we head to the Flathead Indian Reservation where is located in the Northwest of Missoula of Montana in order to study and understand about confederation of Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the overview of Tribal History and Tribal Education in the Country.

The Flathead Indian Reservation is home to three tribes, the Bitterroot Salish, Upper Pend d’Oreille, and the Kootenai. “Confederated Salish” refers to both the Salish and Pend d’Oreille tribes. The territories of these three tribes covered all of western Montana and extended into parts of Idaho, British Columbia and Wyoming. The Hellgate Treaty of 1855 established the Flathead Reservation, but over half a million acres passed out of Tribal ownership during land allotment that began in 1904. There are 6,961 enrolled members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Of this population, 4,244 live on the reservation. Natural resources are actually belonged very much by the local people, especially indeginous people. That is no exception to the tribes of Salish and Kootenai, they are managed very good the nature including Fish, Wildlife, Recreation, and Conservation Programs.

By presentation from Prof. Germaine White, Natural Environment Department and her colleague from Energy Keepers, INC, it can be seen that the Salish and Kootenai tribes were affected by land economic concession, they were lost their lands, their livelihood is effected, their culture was lost, socio-economics and environment issues were gone down dramatically. That was quite similar perspectives when I did the study in Central Vietnam about hydropower dam which was funded by Asia Development Bank (ADB) during a fellow at Mekong School- EarthRights International, all of local people from Katu Ethnic Group had to replace for dam, I found that their economics were lost, their lands were taken by dam builders, forest area was cut down all and their custom was lost.

I am from Khmer Ethnic Group from Vietnam, I own my owner culture and I can see that how does majority group overwhelm minority groups and how do local and national policies make inequality and unefficiency to our people, some related things that many young generations from our communities cannot speak our own language and they do not get education because of those reasons. From visiting Salish Kootenai College (SKC) in the community, that is interesting in studying that how do they do action for better education, both locally and nationally, for Native Americans. Moreover, they still think about vocational training which they believe that meets the demand of the Native American poupulation and the needs for labor force in the States. Furthermore, the tribes both encourage and engage young generation to preserve their own languages by opening classes and communication acitities in the communities for them.

A highlight for this trip is that national, international treaties and United States Declarations should be effective tools to save our Mekong River by mainstream dams building along the river and the hundred of development projects in whole lower Mekong Region countries. It is supposed that if each country comprises to sign the treaties on social and environment protection, each nation enforces The United Nation Declarations which was signed by their Government, those problems are dealed. I strongly believe that our people rights are to be protected and we have to raise our voices by ourselves as making strong capacity of local communities members. I know that there are treaties between two countries between United States and Canada for protecting the system of rivers, lakes and reservoirs as well as watershed enforcement among countries. That probably applies if ASEAN Community forces each country to compromise and intergate common treaties as well as their enforcement themselves.

Buddism is a widespread Asian religion, I am part of it. I feel serenity and purity while I see Buddhas into my life. I am praying for my clean mind and for trying to overcome everything which has been coming to my life.

Missoula, Octorber 22, 2015

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