In the face of California's severe drought in 2015, federal and local law enforcement stepped up their raids against weed growers in Indian Country. The most aggressive of these strikes have occurred on the territory of the Yurok, Hoopa and Karuk in the Klamath River Basin of Humboldt County, where some of the West Coast's largest salmon runs - salmon that are fundamental to local tribal culture – are struggling to survive in dwindling rivers and streams.
The strategy is billed as a check upon an often violent industry that pollutes and depletes creeks, and aggravates drinking water shortages in communities where water infrastructure is already sorely inadequate. The reality is more complex. With few other jobs available, many tribal members are themselves growers, and, at best, the raids are only a temporary deterrent. “In Iowa, the crows get some of the corn," said one local police officer during a raid. "We’re the crows.”
Yurok civil engineer Austin Nova cleans one of the tribe's decaying public water intakes.
Expecting to be raided, grower Timothy Littlefield hides marijuana clones in the woods near his home on the Yurok Reservation.
Yurok member Louis Myers hauls salmon from the warm, drought-depleted Klamath River. His family relies on his catch for food and income.
A feast after a dance on the Yurok Reservation.
Crop additives from marijuana grows have polluted drinking water and salmon habitat in the Klamath Basin.
Soldiers encounter four, 15-foot deep trenches in a Forest Service road en route to a grow site. Growers often know when raids are coming.