by Peter Bock-Schroeder (1913 - 2001)
The "Happy Fishing Ground", owned by the Wyam Indians, at the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington is endangered to be destroyed through the construction of the "Dallas Dam". During the Fishing Season (April-October) up to 5000 Indians from the Umatilla, Yakima and Warm Spring Reservations come here. Native settlements has existed here in various configurations for 15,000 years. The Building of the Dallas Dam which will supply a nearby electric power station, means the loss of their income and their ancient tradition. The torrential River will be replaced by a quiet Lake. In the 19th century the Indians were given the exclusive right of the Columbian River by decree of "the white man". Once again the Native Americans learn what these promises are worth. They are now promised apartments and money as compensation for their fishing grounds.
The Indian Families are disgusted by the way the government treats them. The fate of the 20 local families is particular hard. Not only their livelihood is jeopardized, they also have to leave their property. They are outraged by the developments, and this time they want to fight for their right.
Celilo Falls (Wyam, meaning "echo of falling water" or "sound of water upon the rocks," in several native languages) was a tribal fishing area on the Columbia River, just east of the Cascade Mountains, on what is today the border between the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington. The name refers to a series of cascades and waterfalls on the river, as well as to the native settlements and trading villages that existed there in various configurations for 15,000 years. Celilo was the oldest continuously inhabited community on the North American continent until 1957, when the falls and nearby settlements were submerged by the construction of The Dalles Dam.