Dammed Societies: Effects of Dams on Native Americans in the Columbia River Basin
Since dam construction began in the New Deal Era, it has represented a dominance of humankind over nature. These massive structures have harnessed, collected, and distributed electricity from the rivers they hold back and allow humans to reap the benefits of that cycle. One of the areas where dams are particularly apparent is in the Columbia River Basin in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. While the dams in this region certainly have allowed the area to develop and build by using the electricity collected by these dams, they have also had several negative effects on the tribal people in the region who once fished the mighty Columbia during its populous salmon runs and relied on the salmon for nutritional, economic, and cultural reasons. This project seeks to examine the costs of human advancement when it comes to dams, and will do so by studying three dams located in the Columbia River Basin: The Bonneville Dam, The Dalles Dam, and The Grand Coulee Dam. These dams will be studied using Black’s Theory of Law as a framework to examine the manner in which law was applied to each case. The research finds that although the dams certainly provide a useful resource to the people of the region, it has had negative effects on the Native American people who depended on the river.