OK, so members of the New 49'ers, a recreational mining club based in Happy Camp, want to suction dredge for shiny gold nibblets in the Klamath River.
And the Karuk Tribe -- which has made its home along the river for thousands of years -- wants there to be more checks on the miners' dredging than the miners like, to protect the fish.
The two groups have been at odds for years over this. Lawsuits. Legislation. And, on a baser level, insults and racial slurs.
The latest twist in the saga has dredged up a cringey dose of the latter.
On March 1, the New 49'ers issued a news release titled "Petition calls for end to ‘widespread and wanton' killing of salmon." It says the group and a coalition of likeminders have petitioned the California Department of Fish and Game for a "repeal of the favored treatment it has given the Karuks, an Indian Tribe that routinely takes countless salmon from the river with no oversight... ."
On the message forum of the New 49'ers' Web site, news of the petition was met with a droplet of dignified resolve, but a bucket-'o-blood of war whoops:
Circle the wagons!
FINALLY.......It's time to play cowboys and indians again..... whoop n ride
Is that necessary?
The release itself is slightly more subtle. Example:
No regulators take account of how many fish the Tribe kills, and no one knows whether the salmon actually wind up on the dinner table -- as State officials claim -- or how many might wind up in restaurants and at markets. No one knows because no one is watching.
Craig Tucker, Klamath Campaign Coordinator for the Karuk Tribe, in a brief, initial response this morning said:
The Karuk do not sell fish -- since Karuk rarely harvest more than 200 fish due to the limited runs, every fish is used for subsistence for Tribal families or served during ceremonies.
Craig called the petition "clearly a vengeful act... ."
UPDATE: The Karuk Tribe's official response.