Seventh Annual ‘One River, Ethics Matter’ Video Conference To Focus On Lower Columbia River Estuary, Discuss Columbia River Treaty

The seventh annual “One River, Ethics Matter” conference will be held during the COVID-19 pandemic by videoconference on December 9 and 10. It will focus on the lower Columbia River estuary and the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.

For complete information and registration details on “River of Time: From Canoes to Freighters to 2160 and the 7th Generation” go to The agenda can be found at

Information From Conference Organizers:

In 2020 climate change impacts are escalating with massive wildfires, smoke, and severe weather. 2020 also brought us COVID-19, the latest in a series of epidemics and pandemics that have killed so many and changed the course of history.

“If you’re not at the table, then you’re on the menu”: still in 2020 tribes remain excluded from major decisions about the future of the Columbia River.

Columbia River Pastoral Letter

Combining the Columbia River Pastoral Letter and medical-ethics consultation tools, our first six “One River, Ethics Matter” conferences have looked upstream in the Columbia-Snake River system at harms from the Basin’s dam-building era and Columbia River Treaty.  With the help of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, this 7th river ethics conference will look downstream to the Columbia River Estuary – generally the river below Bonneville Dam to the Pacific Ocean.

This seventh river ethics conference will explore remedial options through respectful dialogue regarding the Columbia River Treaty: (1) adding a third Treaty purpose co-equal to existing Treaty purposes of hydropower and flood control, and (2) new approaches to ethics-based international river governance.  

In 2020 the U.S.-Canadian historic friendship is strained as never before. The COVID-19 pandemic has closed the border. In Canada, Indigenous Sovereigns are part of the negotiating team. By contrast, in the U.S. where systemic racism has prompted the largest marches and protests in American history, tribes remain excluded from the U.S. negotiating team.

From time immemorial indigenous people lived along these rivers and depended on the annual return of salmon.  While acknowledging benefits of the Columbia’s dam-building era, we will also explore the significant environmental, cultural, and social costs of converting the world’s richest salmon river into a machine of dams and stair-stepping reservoirs.

We will also look to Portland and the desire for floodplain development – despite the unheeded lessons of the Vanport flood of 1948. We will continue to explore the injustice of protecting floodplain development for the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area while so many others pay the price of destroyed river valleys, communities, and fish and wildlife habitats throughout the Columbia River Basin.

Finally, we will use the ethical foundations provided by indigenous cultural leaders and western religious leaders, and lessons from the Cowlitz Tribe of Indians, to advance justice and stewardship for the Columbia River.

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