For thousands of years we, the Nez Perce, have managed ecosystems in our country with respect, residing in a land rich in natural resources when the first non-Indian arrived. Although all resources within Mother Earth have a place and are important, salmon are central to our religion, culture, and subsistence; we honor them accordingly, and their existence is vital and linked to ours. Salmon, and the ecosystems they depend on, are in a state of crisis.
Unfortunate management activities of the last 150 years, such as over grazing, excessive timber harvest, poor farming practices, and development encroaching upon floodplains and streams have degraded many rivers and streams, and their ecosystems to critical levels. Water is the lifeblood in the veins of mother earth, and impacts to the water are felt throughout the ecosystem.
Many of these impacts could have been, and can be prevented by respectful use of mother earth and her resources. It is time to fulfill that respect and heal the resources of this region.
Our vision is one in which rivers and streams, the lifeblood in the veins of Nez Perce Country, and the ecosystems they support are healthy and valued. We envision a world in which the blood of life is treated with the utmost respect by all and land management activities ensure a sustainable balance with healthy ecosystems; only then will salmon, and all life, once again thrive and the circle of life continue for all time.
Our mission is to protect and restore aquatic ecosystems throughout Nez Perce Country. This work has its roots in exercising tribal sovereignty and protecting rights reserved under the Nez Perce Treaty of 1855 with the United States Federal Government. These activities are accomplished using a holistic approach encompassing entire watersheds from ridge-top to ridge-top. Specifically, our mission is to:
- Be a leader in holistic aquatic ecosystem restoration;
- Ensure and facilitate the protection of currently healthy and properly functioning aquatic ecosystems;
- Aggressively restore aquatic ecosystems from past and present degradation by any and all means necessary;
- Ensure our efforts focus on restoring the functions that support healthy ecosystems, such as natural stream flows, appropriate sediment loads, floodplain connectivity, appropriately vegetated riparian corridors, etc.;
- Develop clear and quantitatively defined goals & standards for healthy aquatic ecosystems, as well as the protocols to monitor the success and status of recovery efforts and facilitate adaptive management strategies;
- Coordinate and collaborate with appropriate individuals and/or entities with land management authority to ensure plans and activities are protective and respectful of aquatic ecosystems;
- Provide educational opportunities and outreach materials for all age groups, other agencies, and the public on environmental issues and ethics, and; Maintain a workforce which possesses the highest level of integrity and professionalism, and is well organized, passionate, creative, and connected to the land and resources.