The Friends of Celilo Falls is born

September 11, 2012Image

In response to the imminent threat posed by proposals to turn the Columbia Gorge into an international industrial corridor bracketed by coal terminals, and having waited a season, the Friends of Celilo Falls made its first public appearance today, before the Columbia River Gorge Commission meeting in Hood River.

Ambre Energy and its partners are pressing for a fast-track process that could result in coal barges on the Columbia River as early as next year.

Still in the process of forming, the Friends of Celilo Falls co-founders felt that the threat was urgent enough that certain information about Celilo and FOCF needed to be entered into the Commission’s record without delay and—appropriately enough—on a day marked by mourning and loss, amid reflections on courage and moral strength, and consecrated to notions of national pride and honor.

I represented the Friends of Celilo Falls as its Executive Director, presented the written comments appended below, and spoke to the Commission during the public comment period.

Synopsis of my remarks to the Commission:

During the 2007 Oregon legislative session, members of the Columbia River tribes and a delegation from Celilo Village came to the state Capitol to ask Senator Avel Louise Gordly to sponsor a resolution marking the 50-year anniversary of the flooding of Celilo Falls.

Senator Gordly was pleased and honored at the request and Senate Concurrent Resolution SCR10, mourning the flooding of Celilo Falls, was drafted with language provided by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. I was Senator Gordly’s chief of staff at the time.

After having consulted with the Columbia River Treaty tribes and the Celilo Village delegation, Senator Gordly ordered an amendment to SCR10, which I was tasked with drafting.

The amendment removed the word “perpetually” from the following line:

“Whereas on March 10, 1957, the waters held back by The Dalles Dam (perpetually) flooded and silenced the awesome and sacred roar of Celilo Falls, severing a great spiritual connection between the Creator, Mother Earth and the Native Peoples of Oregon;”

The Friends of Celilo Falls believes that no one, none of us, can achieve our potential as human beings as long as this disconnection exists.

The remainder of my remarks echoed the written comments in following posts

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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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