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Tribe plans protest of river event

August 10, 2018

NEEDLES — The final OK may have been given and the event a go, but the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, and others, intend to keep fighting the Laughlin River Regatta.

The tribe will be holding a meeting from 5 to 6 p.m. today at their offices, 8490 S. Highway 95 in Mohave Valley, next to Hunter’s Grill, to discuss plans for a show of protest on Saturday.

The tribe held an invitation-only meeting Thursday to update those who are in opposition of the regatta about what the FMIT is doing to show event organizers and participants that the event is not welcome in the valley, FMIT Council Chairman Tim Williams said.

The meeting also gave people an opportunity to discuss the logistics of the protests that will take place, he said.

The possible trashing of the Colorado River by the event’s 22,000 participants has not been addressed to his satisfaction, Williams said.

Two years ago when photos circulated online of trash along the shorelines, it was seen as disrespect by FMIT members, he said. Since then, tribal members have shown strong opposition to the event and have done what they can to “remain persistent, consistent and resistant” to the event, Williams said.

“The tribe will use any and all resources to keep it from happening in the future,” Williams said.

According to Williams, the same goes for any event similar to the regatta that could put the river in harm’s way.

“We’re the protectors of our water,” Celina Reyes, FMIT council member, said. “Our leaders before us would have done the same thing.”

Some people see the fight as already lost and wonder why the FMIT continues to rally against it, but Reyes said she believes it is the responsibility of the council to continue fighting for the next generation.

Colleen Garcia echoed Reyes’ comments.

“We’re Aha Macav — People Who Live Along the River — caretakers of the water,” she said. “Creator placed us here to take care of that water and we continue that fight day in and day out.”

The water means a lot to the tribe, especially the elders, so it’s important to protect it for the future, Garcia said.

FMIT is receiving support from their neighbors including Fort Mohave, Mohave Valley and Needles, Williams said.

“We appreciate the support from the City of Needles, a good relationship there,” he said. “We are disappointed, though, in our own county supervisor Lois Wakimoto in voting for the regatta.”

Mohave Valley and Fort Mohave are not incorporated and are represented by the Mohave County Board of Supervisors. Wakimoto is the District 5 supervisor, a district that includes Fort Mohave and Mohave Valley.

Judy Thornton, a Mohave Valley resident who attended the meeting Thursday, said she was upset by the treatment of the tribe by event organizers and by the Bullhead City mayor and council members.

“Things said have been disrespectful and have lacked any acknowledgement of the history or power of the tribe,” she said. “It’s been almost slanderous.”

Thornton said she doesn’t like seeing how much trash ends up down river and is not in favor of the event.

Her questions about the plan to mitigate down river trash have gone unanswered, she said.