Toward communicative democracy
In September 2002, during one of the largest salmon runs in recent years, upwards of 60,000 salmon died in a two-week period on the Klamath River in northern California. Yurok, Karuk and Hupa fishermen left their nets to count the dead by ‘hacking off their tails so they would not be counted twice’. Grassroots activism is growing in both the Native communities and among the upriver ranchers and farmers. Both sides are sick and tired of top-down water- and land-use policies, particularly when those policies impinge upon their respective ‘rights’. The Klamath Watershed is typical of a pluralist body politic which ‘face[s] serious divergences in value premises, cultural practices and meanings, and these disparities bring conflict, insensitivity, insult and misunderstanding’. Multivocal theatre needs to grapple with the notion of multivocal authorship. For Karuk, Yurok and Hupa people, stories are precious and contain the threads of continuity between past and present.