Video Debut: Changing Currents, A Tribal Vision for Water

“The waters and the earth, they take care of us, and it’s our responsibility to humble ourselves and take care of them again and again and again.” Wocus Gibbons, age 17, Klamath and Chinook

Pacific Northwest tribal youth, Chairman Gentry from The Klamath Tribes, and Changing Currents co-founder Direlle Calica share their vision for the future of our waters in this new video produced by OEC for ATNI’s Changing Currents initiative.

Changing Currents aims to elevate a tribally-led movement for our waters. We heard early on in this work that storytelling and sharing Native perspectives and experiences of water would be central to building a collective vision, and OEC has been partnering with ATNI to lift up these voices in Oregon water policy.

Tribal governments and Native communities are uniquely positioned to advance their sovereign, legal, cultural, and basic human right to clean water. Water – and specifically the water that nourishes these homelands – is an inherent part of tribal culture, spirituality, society and identity.

As we envision a stronger Oregon, it’s imperative that everyone has the water they need to be healthy in body and spirit. But this is not the case today, particularly on tribal reservations and for Native communities that can no longer practice their traditions or access clean water. The community of Warm Springs continues to battle with a failing drinking water system that has left people without potable water on and off over the past year, and Umatilla Indian Reservation has been routinely impacted by damaging winter floods.

Addressing these issues is essential to building a just and sustainable future for all of us.

As climate change continues to take a toll on our water resources and the COVID-19 pandemic leaves Oregon’s state budget in pieces, we will be faced with tough decisions about how to best manage our water resources for our needs today and future generations. Learning from Indigenous communities and elevating tribal priorities needs to be a priority for all of us, from the streets to the Governor’s Office.

“If we provide for what the tribes intended to reserve through treaty, and we provide for what should be there, what has been there historically, it’s going to benefit everybody.”  – Chairman Don Gentry, The Klamath Tribes

Visit for more videos from Northwest tribes on our relationship to water.

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