Conflict Mounts at Willamette Falls

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde enter into a legal battle with Portland General Electric.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde filed a motion this week to intervene in a federal lawsuit Portland General Electric filed in April regarding Willamette Falls.

PGE seeks to seize land that the Oregon Department of State Lands controls. The state had granted the Grand Ronde a permit to use the falls for fishing and ceremonial purposes, but PGE objected to the fishing platform on safety grounds.

As WW has previously reported, the dispute over fishing rights at Willamette Falls is an intertribal conflict that’s about more than fish.

In its filing, the Grand Ronde say PGE’s lawsuit “is a massive overreach based on false and misguided concerns.” Tribal council chairwoman Cheryle Kennedy wrote: “If PGE succeeds, not only will it threaten the Tribe’s ceremonial fishery, it will transfer ownership of Oregon’s iconic Willamette Falls from the state of Oregon, and all of Oregon’s citizens, to a private, for-profit corporation.”

PGE declined to comment.