Aurelia Stacoma (Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs) talks about her relationship to the Columbia River.
Bio: Aurelia was a Warm Springs elder. Throughout her life she has been a dancer and beadworker, and has attended pow-wows nationally. She also opened up a church and ran a 12-step program on the Warm Springs reservation. She passed away in 2019, three years after the interview was conducted.
“We all originated along the Columbia. And when Celilo was there it was good, we did that. But just the river itself still means a lot to us because we are a part of that connection to that water. And we consider ourselves from the Wy’am which is the Columbia. To us it’s called Wy’am. And then when they decide to move us, move us back this way, the found places for us to–which they called the reservations. But we know where we came from. We know what we’re about, we know who we are, and what we’re going to stand for. And we’re not going to allow people to tell us you don’t belong here because you’re not part of the Warm Springs. But the Yakamas, some went that way, some came this way. And so when we talk about that we remember what Celilo was about, but that was taken away so we don’t stop there and try and cry over spilled milk, we continue on to allow that water to be a part of us. And we’re still part of the Wy’am.”