Mohawks become first tribe to take down a federal dam
HOGANSBURG | A century after the first commercial dam was built on the St. Regis River, blocking the spawning runs of salmon and sturgeon, the stream once central to the traditional culture of New York’s Mohawk Tribe is flowing freely once again.
The removal of the 11-foot-high Hogansburg Dam this fall is the latest in the tribe’s decades-long struggle to restore territory defiled by industrial pollution, beginning in the 1980s with PCBs and heavy metals from nearby General Motors, Alcoa and Reynolds Metal plants, a cleanup under federal oversight that’s nearly complete.
The St. Regis River project is the first removal of an operating hydroelectric dam in New York state and the nation’s first decommissioning of a federally licensed dam by a Native American tribe, federal officials say.
Paired with the recent success of
North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux in rerouting a pipeline they feared could threaten their water supply, the dam’s removal underscores longstanding concern over the health of tribal lands.
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