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Regional News

Northwest Tribes to Hold Salmon Ceremony in Kettle Falls

Upper Columbia United Tribes

Members of several northwest Indian tribes will celebrate the traditional role of salmon in their culture during ceremonies tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday. Many participants will arrive via canoe at Kettle Falls Thursday morning.

People in two huge hand-carved canoes set off this week from the Keenleyside Dam, near Castlegar, British Columbia. They’re paddling down the Columbia River and will arrive Thursday morning in time for a ceremony at the site of one of the most historically prolific fisheries in the Northwest, Kettle Falls. That fishery disappeared with the building of Grand Coulee Dam in the 1930s and the creation of its reservoir, Lake Roosevelt.

D-R Michel is the executive director of the Upper Columbia United Tribes.

“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.

Michel says his organization is working with other agencies to explore ways to allow salmon to migrate back up the river, beyond Grand Coulee, so the tribes can re-establish salmon fishing as part of their culture.

In addition to the Thursday event in Kettle Falls, another salmon ceremony is planned for Friday morning in Castlegar.