January 2021- June 2021

In January 2021, I made my first trip to the Yurok Reservation to photograph members of the Yurok Tribal Fisheries Program. The program works towards understanding, conserving, and restoring fish population and the Klamath biodiversity.

For centuries, the Klamath Basin served as the lifeway for many indigenous groups. It was one of the largest watersheds that provided migration routes to runs of the Anadromous fish population, notably salmon and trout. Forceful settler invasion deprived the indigenous people of their ancestral rights and privileges of water and land. The exploitation of land through mining and timber resulted in genocide, diseases, and loss of culture.  Unrestrained water usage and implementation of dams affected natural waterways and the ecosystem. Such overutilization of resources would prove disastrous, as it held no regard for the safety of the biodiversity.

Tribal groups, scientists, and supporters have made traction against the usage of the dams for decades. Additional public support for the return of indigenous water rights came in 2002. After intense scrutiny from farmers complaining about the dry year, new irrigation policies got enacted to divert water to croplands. The water diversion introduced unsustainable food sources, toxic algae growth, fatal disease, and parasites among marine life.This resulted in the infamous 2002 Klamath River Fish Kill, which saw the deaths of over 33,000 marine life.

In November 2020, a historic deal was signed to revive one of the largest dam removal projects in the United States. The dam removal is vital to restoring the watershed ecosystem and recompensation from the cultural genocide of native ancestral rights.

 © Vivian Wan 2022 • All Rights Reserved