Mega-Dams and Indigenous Human Rights
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Mega-Dams and Indigenous Human Rights

Itzchak Kornfeld

This original and insightful book explores and examines the impact that building mega-dams has on the human rights of those living in surrounding areas, and in particular those of indigenous peoples who are often most affected. Compiling case studies from around the world, Itzchak Kornfeld provides clear examples of how human rights violations are perpetrated and compounded, with chapters examining historical, recent and ongoing dam projects.
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Chapter 2: America and the age of dams

Itzchak Kornfeld


Until the beginning of the twentieth century the Colorado River ran freely from its source, located in the Rocky Mountains. During the depression era of the twentieth century, United States initiated what, in subsequent decades, would become a worldwide surge of building large dams across almost every river basin in the world. That first large dam, the Hoover Dam, was constructed on the Colorado River. The United States’ second dam was built on the Columbia River, in the country’s northwest. Although, 40 years hence, we have learned about the ecological destruction that these dams caused, the electricity that these dams generated was enormously helpful when the United States entered World War II. However, these dams wreaked havoc with the Colorado River’s delta and today there is no water for either agriculture or fish. On the Columbia, Native American tribes lived for thousands of years prior to the European invasion. Salmon were their mainstay and a cultural emblem. But the Europeans destroyed their ability to earn a living.

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