THE DALLES, Oregon — On Oct. 14, also called Indigenous Peoples’ Day by some, at the traditional fishing site of Celilo Falls on the Columbia River, the Lummi Nation stood in support as Yakama Nation chairman JoDe Goudy called for the removal of the John Day, Dalles and Bonneville dams on the Columbia River.
“We stand with the Yakama Nation in asserting their sovereign right to make decisions and act in the best interest of their people, their homelands and future generations,” said Jeremiah (Jay) Julius, chairman of the Lummi Nation of Whatcom County. “We are in a constant battle, whether defeating coal ports, opposing increased vessel traffic on the Salish Sea, repairing culverts or removing invasive Atlantic salmon, to leave to future generations a lifeway promised to our ancestors 164 years ago. Our people understand that the salmon, like the orca, are the miner’s canary for the health of the Salish Sea and for all its children.”
He refers to the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott setting terms of earliest white settlement in Washington.
The Columbia River Basin once produced an estimated 10 to 16 million salmon per year; it is now down to about a million. Dams impede salmon passage, and the changes dams cause to water quality and quantity threaten the salmon populations, tribes say.
“We are salmon people,” said Lawrence Solomon, secretary of Lummi Nation and supervisor of the Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office. “Salmon connect our rivers and our waterways, salmon connect our peoples. The Salish Sea orcas, our qwe’lhol’mechen, our relations under the waves, rely on salmon. Removing the dams, healing the river, will help heal the salmon runs, our qwe’lhol’mechen, and all of Xw’ullemy, the Salish Sea bioregion.”