The Industrialization of Celilo Falls, and its failures, pt 1

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

For more than ten thousand years, the Columbia River Tribes husbanded the natural beauty and resources of Celilo Falls, creating an economy that many would call “the Wall Street of the West”, amid a natural landscape that had few peers (often called “the Niagara Falls of the West”), with five times the flow of Niagara Falls.

Under the stewardship of the Tribes, the Celilo Falls economy was green, sustainable, non-polluting, the foundation and generator of a major regional market that spanned many thousands of square miles, and it looked like this:

Under the Doctrine of Discovery and the Doctrine of Manifest Destiny, the United States claimed ownership of what it called the Oregon Territory, and by 1855, after many epidemics, starvations, and military and vigilante campaigns against the Indians, white settlers had dispossessed the Tribes of just about everything they had ever known, forcing them onto reservations far from the Columbia River, far from the Williamette, far from the Snake.

The map demonstrates how egregious and unfair the Treaties were, signed under duress by people who did not speak English or other European languages, and who had no choice but to sign, since more than two and a half million acres had already been claimed by the settlers, including both banks of all the major rivers in the Pacific Northwest.

Yet the River Tribes, the Wyam People, clung to The Falls, to N’ch-iwana, to their villages and sacred sites that dotted both banks of the River, upstream and downstream, as they had for thousands of years.

White settlers moved in and claimed ownership of portions of Celilo Falls and of everything else that they wanted, and what they wanted was more, more fish than could be caught from platforms or with a dipnet, and the industrialization of Celilo Falls began.

They built fish wheels and canneries, created industrial-scale wastage of the fish, and committed the unthinkable sacrilege of dynamiting a canal through the Indian village, just a few feet from the sacred Falls.

For thousands of years, fish like these were plentiful in the Columbia River, but that was before the River Tribes lost control of the resource, and unimaginable wastage ruled the day.

Coming:

The Industrialization of Celilo Falls, and its failures, pt 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For thousands of years, fish like these were plentiful in the Columbia River, but that was before the River Tribes lost control of the resource, and unimaginable wastage ruled the day.

 

 

 

 

 

Coming: The Industrialization of Celilo Falls, and its failures, pt 2

Advertisements

About 1000nations

Sean Aaron Cruz is Executive Director of 1000 Nations and a co-founder of The Friends of Celilo Falls. He is the organizer of the Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival. He is co-author of Winona LaDuke's new book, "The Militarization of Indian Country." He is the father of four children who disappeared into Utah in a Mormon abduction in 1996, and the author of Oregon's landmark anti-kidnapping statute "Aaron's Law" (Senate Bill 1041), named for his late son Aaron Cruz. He writes online as Blogolitical Sean.
This entry was posted in Celilo Falls and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Industrialization of Celilo Falls, and its failures, pt 1

  1. I never thought of it that way, well put!

  2. Interesting views concerning that!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s