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Details that Make the Story

My mother grew up in Wasco County at the beginning of the 20th century. She and my grandparents used to speak of the great injustice done to the native people who lived there. Grandma would get tears in her eyes when she spoke of the poor men standing, empty-handed and without work. Growing up a woman in the last half of the 19th century, she understood feeling powerless.


The area around The Dalles Dam is/was used by Native Americans for fishing and has been for many centuries. Native people still have fishing rights in the area. These pictures lend clues to the struggle to work: rocky hillsides, abandoned structures, a forgotten saw, a knotted cable, a rusty metal eyelet still pulling its weight.




And all of them make this possible:

Just a few miles east of this site was Celilo Falls, a natural falls in the river itself. For 11,000 years, the Native People would perch on platforms like these that jutted out over the falls. They would net or spear salmon, which could be dried for trade and for later consumption, as well as eaten fresh. This economic activity was central to much of their life and culture.


In 1957, the U.S. Government inaugurated The Dalles Dam, flooding Celilo Falls and parts of the traditional village nearby, including burial grounds.


A harsh ending to a long history.




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