First Nations tribal members from the United States and Canada gathered along the shore of the Columbia River at Millennium Park on Tuesday to host a ceremony to call the salmon home. They were joined by area residents wishing to show their support.
Prayers were accompanied by drummers and singers. Participants were each asked to select two rocks to be clapped together to the beat of the drums to communicate to the salmon and then were tossed into the river at the end of the prayer.
The event is part of a series of meetings being held by the Upper Columbia United Tribes (UCUT) to summarize recent efforts on the part of the 15 United Tribes living along the Columbia in the U.S. to create fish passage above Grand Coulee and restore salmon to the Columbia and Slocan Rivers. Meetings are also being held in Grand Forks, Nelson, Nakusp and Revelstoke.
Government decisions are being made regarding the possibility of modernizing the Columbia River Treaty. The treaty currently is focused on hydropower and flood control. UCUT would like to see the treaty extended to include ecosystem function and fish passage. They are working closely with tribes on this side of the border to create a unified vision.
“Eventually we have to treat this as one river, despite being two separate countries. The river does not know that it is two separate countries. It is important that we start interacting with the river in that way too.” said John Say’Ay’ of UCUT. “It is a large task and governments worry about price tags. They worry about what that is going to mean for their operations. But if we take one bite at a time, we will get it. Don’t be afraid of the large project in front of you. Take one step at a time.”