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Five Minute Speeches - Peter Warshall

The Hooeeoko people who lived in this valley believed in the salmon. The salmon was the creature of the watershed. The salmon went from the headwaters where the adults mated and produced their young down to the Pacific, where they lived and grew to adulthood and then came back.  It is therefore the totem, the totem creature of our watersheds, just as the whale and the dolphin are the totem creatures of our oceans.  And its health has to do with everybody else's health. The health of the salmon, like the health of the whale, tells us how well our land is, our waters are, and how well our own lives are.

Conservation means local economy. If you conserve your own water, conserve your own land, then you will keep the salmon alive, and you will be able to eat - salmon.  Right now, because of our own destruction of all the watersheds in California, we can no longer eat the salmon of our own streams. When you go down to Fisherman's Wharf, the crab you get comes from .Eureka and Alaska, whereas it used to come from the Bay Area. Your salmon now comes from up in Alaska, rather than from the rivers that are right around us.

Think of the names of the rivers that feed the Bay Area and we can see that every one of those watersheds has been upset and put into a disease, a dis-ease place, by human influence. Think of the Pit, the McCloud, the Yuba, the Feather, the American, the Stanislaus, the Mokelumne, the San Joaquin, the Sacramento.   In all of California, every river has been dammed except for the Smith. The Smith river is the only river that still flows from the mountains to the sea without a dam, without diversion, without canals, and still can maintain its health, and its economy the salmon.  In order to maintain our economy and our health, we must believe in the totem creature of the people who lived here for thousands of years.
... I lived through the fifties, and so I can tell you that eras like the one we are in right at the moment do not last forever. Something is going to happen again, something is going to start moving.   It may be something like the French self-management thing that happened in '68, where, instead of saying the factory must stop, workers say, "We are going to take over the factory. Management please go away." I think a lot more of that is going to happen when the next great upheaval comes. Now the role of technical intelligentsia people like ourselves is always to ally ourselves with some large mass of people.   If we don't do that we end up isolated and without real leverage when the crunch comes.  It's very important, therefore, and I urge this upon you as our highest priority right now, to continue forging an alliance with what is perhaps embarrassingly still referred to as the working class, the working people of this country.  If we can manage that combination of forces, that combination of power will be enough, I think, to makeus capable of really moving the Earth toward a stable state, survival-oriented, maybe even Ecotopian future. Thank you.