From Coyote to the Corps of Engineers: Recalling the History of the Dalles-Celilo Reach

By Barber, Katrine; Fisher, Andrew H. | Oregon Historical Quarterly, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

From Coyote to the Corps of Engineers: Recalling the History of the Dalles-Celilo Reach


Barber, Katrine, Fisher, Andrew H., Oregon Historical Quarterly


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

AN EAGLE FEATHER IN HIS outstretched hand, Chief Olsen Meanus, Jr., waited for the canoes to land as their oarsmen and women coursed through the quiet waters of Lake Celilo on the Columbia River. The water barely rippled under a light breeze that belied the usual gorge winds, water and winds that originally brought people here thousands of years ago to harvest and dry fish. The March morning was cooled by an overcast sky as thousands gathered along the river to remember Celilo Falls fifty years after its inundation. Meanus was dressed ceremonially, as befitted the occasion, and was joined by other Indian men and women in traditional regalia, as well as by guests dressed more casually in jeans, t-shirts, and fleece. The small flotilla of hand-carved vessels carried visiting Wanapums from upriver and Chinooks from downriver as well as Puyallups and Squaxins from distant Puget Sound. Their landing, with permission by Chief Meanus on behalf of the sixty or so residents of Celilo Village, honored the importance of the mid-Columbia River to Native people for millennia. On shore, the canoes' occupants mingled with visitors who had traveled from throughout the Pacific Northwest to witness their arrival. In the afternoon, people gathered in the village longhouse to hear speeches from Native and non-Native dignitaries and to share a meal of salmon and other traditional foods. On the walls around them hung pictures of the falls that once roared louder than the passing traffic on today's nearby interstate highway.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Many people in the Northwest have seen pictures of Celilo Falls--in postcards and prints for sale in gift shops, in museums and art galleries, in murals in hotels and bars--making it one of the region's most iconic landscapes. Those images document a river as it once was, reminding us of how much the Columbia has changed. On March 10, 1957, with the closure of The Dalles Dam, thousands of people throughout the region celebrated a remade river. The concrete edifice that effaced the falls and rapids upstream culminated decades of work by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, politicians in Oregon and Washington, and local Wasco County boosters. After years of planning, lobbying, and testing, a dam dreamed up on paper became manifest, and human industry tamed the mid-Columbia's wild current. Fifty years ago, the closing of the spillway gates signaled success--in the engineering capabilities of the Corps of Engineers, in a burgeoning postwar economy, and in a growing ability to avert Cold War threats using the nation's natural wealth.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

But The Dalles Dam also signaled the end of an era. Its rising reservoir drowned the ancient fisheries between Celilo Falls and the foot of Three-mile Rapids, displacing some of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America and swallowing archaeological sites that scholars had only just begun to explore. Newspaper coverage of the event, though primarily celebratory, took note of the loss. "Islands disappeared," the Oregonian reported on March ii, "and then The Dalles-Celilo canal slipped under the surface, and the famed Celilo falls Indian fishing rocks were buried. By nightfall, only a minor riffle remained where the cataracts had roared for thousands of years." (1) That loss is still felt today by mid-Columbia Indians and many non-Indian residents of the region. Expressions of regret and remorse counter the triumphal story of river development, and the tension between those narratives permeates our understanding of Celilo Falls and the mid-Columbia River.

Constructed nine miles downstream from the place where Chief Meanus stood in March 2007, The Dalles Dam dramatically altered the river's course and speed, furthering its transformation into what historian Richard White has called an "organic machine," The Columbia still flows, but it is no longer the natural stream that salmon and Indians knew for millennia. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

From Coyote to the Corps of Engineers: Recalling the History of the Dalles-Celilo Reach
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.