Today members of several northwest Indian tribes are in Kettle Falls to celebrate the traditional role of salmon in their culture. It’s the second consecutive year such an event has been held. Some of the celebrants arrived in huge hand-carved canoes. They set off from the Keenleyside Dam, near Castlegar, British Columbia, padded down the Columbia River and arrived for a ceremony at the site of one of the most historically prolific fisheries in the Northwest. That fishery disappeared with the building of Grand Coulee Dam in the 1930s and the creation of its reservoir, Lake Roosevelt.
“You know, for over 80 years, with the development of Grand Coulee, they had the Ceremony of Tears here and we eventually lost that part of our culture in our ceremonies. So these canoes are a way of waking that up, so to speak, to get back out on the water together as tribes, to work to protect and enhance these resources for the benefit of all people,” Michel said.
D.R. Michel (michelle) is the executive director of the Upper Columbia United Tribes.