Why Indigenous activists in Oregon say racial injustice is at the root of regional water conflicts that have been intensifying with the climate crisis.

"When the Water Stopped", 2021. Climate change is pushing a small Oregon town in the United States to its breaking point. The federal government has supplied water to farmers in the Klamath Basin region for more than a century as part of a project to encourage white settlement and agriculture in the western US. Extreme heat and drought in 2021 pushed the government to shut off the farmers’ water to honor a treaty with the local Native American tribes in order to protect their sacred and endangered fish. Josh Rushing travels to the front lines of the climate crisis as a long-running water conflict between farmers and tribes intensifies — and Indigenous activists call for their town to reckon with the colonialism at the root of its water wars.

Our creation story teaches us that if the fish die, the people die. But before that happens we will fight because it is in our blood.

Joey Gentry, Klamath Tribal Member
Laila Al-Arian, executive producer | Jeremy Raff, producer | Eric Ljung, director of photography | Adrienne Haspel, editor | Josh Rushing, correspondent