For generations, Celilo Falls was the center of culture and commerce in the Northwest, the oldest continuously inhabited place in the region. It was also one of the most productive fisheries in North America. The roar of the falls could be heard for miles. On March 10, 1957 that roar fell silent when gates of The Dalles Dam closed. Celilo Falls was flooded in a matter of hours. The Confluence Arc by Maya Lin is an elevated walkway, inspired by traditional fishing platforms, to honor the Falls and people who have lived and fished on this river for generations and will continue to for generations to come.
Karen Whitford is an elder in Celilo Village. This is her statement about the Celilo Park project:
Dear Confluence Project and tribes,
On behalf of Celilo Village and the Columbia River Indians, this project is important in remembrance that the Falls is sleeping and that walkway is like an honor to me, to honor the elders and the people of the river. Knowing that the other tribal opinions are important but this is important to the people here, right now. So much has happened to the people of W’yam, historically. This would be the highest honor to the Falls and to the elders and to the river. The W’yam Indians always say that the Falls is sleeping but the roar of the Falls echoes in our hearts. And to me that walkway would give me the greatest feelings to walk to see where the Falls is sleeping because the Falls still echoes in our heart and our people. And I feel Celilo Falls should be honored in this manner with the Confluence Project.
May 1, 2015
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