Celilo Falls

Wikipedia sums up the significance of this site very well:

For 15,000 years, native peoples gathered at Wyam to fish and exchange goods. They built wooden platforms out over the water and caught salmon with dipnets and long spears on poles as the fish swam up through the rapids and jumped over the falls. Historically, an estimated fifteen to twenty million salmon passed through the falls every year, making it one of the greatest fishing sites in North America.

Celilo Falls and The Dalles were strategically located at the border between Chinookan and Sahaptian speaking peoples and served as the center of an extensive trading network across the Pacific Plateau. Artifacts from the original village site at Celilo suggest that tribes came from as far away as the Great Plains, Southwestern United States, and Alaska. When the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through the area in 1805, the explorers found a “great emporium…where all the neighboring nations assemble,” and a population density unlike anything they had seen on their journey. Accordingly, historians have likened the Celilo area to the “Wall Street of the West.”

All of this came to an end in 1957 when the final construction of The Dalles Dam flooded the entire area, destroying the falls and rapids, along with 15,000 years of fishing. According to the Government lawyers, none of this was a violation of treaties with the native tribes, although cash awards were made in compensation.

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Briseadh’s Poetry Corner

Who counts the sand
Falling gently in the hourglass?
Each grain a memory,
A memory in a crystal of time.

Who counts the tears
That fall in silent rage?
Each tear an outcry,
For vengeance in due time.

As the sand and tear drops fall;
Gath’ring torrents to the sea,
Who can stop the tide?
Who can change the course?
Who can heal the pain of each crystal memory?

Who will stop the sand?
Who will stop the tears
From falling, from falling?
Who will come to stop the children
From killing,
From dying?

Who will look into every grain
Of crystal time,
And hear mothers’ voices calling,
Crying,
Crying,
Dying…

When will the sand stop falling?
When will there be
The counter of the sand?

(all poems copyright 2008, Briseadh na Faire)

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