The Industrialization of Celilo Falls, and its failures, pt 3

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon–

For more than 10,000 years, the River tribes were careful stewards of Celilo Falls and the salmon who thrived there, and managed a trading economy that reached far beyond the Pacific Northwest.

Then came the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and then the Oregon Trail, and the Oregon Donation Land Act that offered free land—Indian land—to white settlers, who changed the landscape perhaps nowhere more dramatically than at Celilo Falls.

In the early 1900s, the white citizens of the new state of Oregon decided to dig a canal close by Celilo Falls, blasting its route through the rocks where Native villages had existed since the dawn of humankind. The River tribes were not consulted on the project.

They built fish wheels, roads and railroads, and a canal, right through Celilo Village, and Celilo came to look like this:

To the new stewards of the Columbia River, Celilo was a place to pass through on the way to somewhere else.

The Celilo canal was little-used after it was built, but the worst news was yet to come.

And the Friends of Celilo Falls is forming….


Coming: The Industrialization of Celilo Falls, and its failures, pt 4





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.
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