Indian Country Today has provided an excellent archive of words spoken at the Elwha dam removal ceremony (9/17/11) by Bill Bradley, former Senator from New Jersey and past Presidential candidate. Part I provides insightful details into the decades of political machinations in D.C. Part II captures the amazing precedent the process sets for how to solve comparable, complicated environmental problems. Perhaps most importantly, Bill gives us orca-advocates a long list of good people to thank.
Here’s the best quote (from the end):
The reflection you see in Elwha is an image of what our country is capable of. Not only in the past. But tomorrow. And years from now. For our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. When they are calling the shots, deciding whether and how to work with each other, and defining the public interest. Here, in the success of our collective action for the Elwha, is a template for success on climate change, energy policy, oceans conservation, species protection, and the hundreds of other issues.
Right now, when it’s just us and a river waiting for the dams to come down, it may be difficult to conceive of the inspirational power of what you have done. But when the salmon return, when the dippers and the herons and beavers and the bears crowd the banks, when the life of the ocean and the mountains are joined again, when justice is done for native people, you will have here something that moves lives and inspires people thousands of miles and continents away from here. It will be compelling, empirical proof of the health and practical genius of our own democracy.
This will be the place where our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren can see the life of the planet restored. They will see the tangible power and great beauty of what you have achieved.
We are restoring honor. We are keeping promises. We are doing the right thing.
Your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren—they will be proud of you.
It will be the great gift of the Elwha—Hope.