The Future of the Bonneville Dam: a Socio-Cultural Perspective

The Bonneville Dam was a New Deal project planned and built during an era of depression. This dam served as proof to the public that through continued technological advance and industrialization, America would be able to overcome the desperate state of the country. Negative consequences of this way of thinking have become so great that a change in ideology is mandatory.

Humans can no longer afford to view the environment solely as a resource to be exploited. Natural ecosystems and native cultures should no longer be secondary considerations to be dealt with once problems have already arisen. The broad base of ecological and technological knowledge that we have should be applied with greater ethical awareness.

We recommend that a program be implemented so that in time no community is dependent upon the Bonneville Dam for power or any other commodity, and the Bonneville Dam can be taken down. Research needs to be done on possible alternative energy resources. The community members need to be educated so that they become aware of the ecological and cultural effects of the Bonneville in the past, present and future. People need to learn the importance and methods of living sustainably and begin to see how their everyday actions will have a direct impact on future generations.

More money and effort should be put into salmon restoration projects which consider the Native American populations that depend on the salmon economically and as a way of life. The ideas, plans and recommendation of the indigenous populations need to be taken into account and taken very seriously when any decisions that will effect them are being made. The local community, indigenous and non-indigenous, must find their voice and take an active role in the decision making process regarding the Bonneville Dam.

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