Monday, March 12, 2007

celilo commemoration...

On our way to the big memorial and just for s & g let me tell you some of the history as I know it: On March 10, 1957 the Celilo Falls was flooded to give way to the massive steel and concrete gates of The Dalles Dam. Six hours later and eight miles upstream, Wy-am (Celilo Falls), the age-old Indian salmon fishery was under water.
That was 50 years ago. The ancient ones left a record of their lives in the ashes of campfires and buried sanctuaries of their dead. They left tools and weapons, items of adornment, and samples of their art. Their record of habitation proves Wy-am to be one of the longest occupied sites on the continent.
For its thousands of years of human civilization, Wy-am was one of history's great market places. A half dozen tribes had permanent villages between the falls and where the dam now stands. As many as 5,000 people would gather to trade, feast, and participate in games and religious ceremonies.
Celilo Falls during fishing season. Carefully constructed scaffolds lined the areas surrounding the turbulent waters flowing through the falls.Elders and chiefs regulated the fishing, permitting none until after the first salmon ceremony. Each day, fishing started and ended at the sound of a whistle. There was no night fishing. And when a fisherman was pulled into the water during his pursuit - most who fell did not survive - all fishing ceased for the day. In later years, each fisherman was required to tie a rope around his waist, with the other end fastened to the shore. Old people and others without family members able to fish could take what they needed from the catches. Visiting tribes were given what they could transport to their homes. The rest belonged to the fishermen and their families.
When the United States government submerged Celilo Falls in 1957, it compensated the tribes for flooding their fishing sites. It did not, however, purchase their fishing rights. Those rights, as set forth in the 1855 treaties, were not in principle affected when the government paid for inundating tribal fishing sites, but the tribes' economic base was shattered. Francis Seufert in Wheels of Progress, his book about his family's many years as cannery owners and operators in the Celilo area, explained, "The government, in paying the Indians for destroying their fishing sites at Celilo, was doing no more for the Indians than the United States government did for Seufert's when they bought Seufert's shore lands that were flooded out by The Dalles Dam pool."

These pictures are from the commemoration day although they are not from the Celilo village - my brother and I went upriver to the Deschutes another historic spot and that's where these pictures are from...
If you're reading this please DO check out the information on Celilo, it will open your eyes to yet another facet of this nation...

1 comment:

JCA said...

thank you for sharing! this is so important to know and give respect to.