Bill Yallup, Jr: “The Water That Washed a Thousand Places”

Chief William Yallup Jr. is a respected elder and river chief. His father is Chief William Yallup, Sr. and he is a direct descendant of treaty signer Wish-Och-Kmpits, and can trace relations to the chiefs Kamiakin and Skloom who were present for the treaty signing. Bill Yallup Jr is a keeper of oral history related to the treaties and strong advocate for treaty related rights.


“You’re going to open your ears, you’re going to have to hear. When you get rid of all this other stuff and your ears open up to the spiritual, it’s not listening to the wind or dogs or cars or sirens or alarm clocks, or television. It’s a vast openness. And you have this place where you go to do that. And almost all people in this world have a mountain, a place, where they can go and sit and pray. Maybe two or three days, non-stop. All over the world. All the peoples. Not just the Columbia River people but all the people. All the way up to Canada, all the way down to Wyoming. It snows and it rains and the water falls upon those sacred sites, places where people have prayed and God has come and communed with that person, God has touched that person. That ground where you’re sitting has been touched. That rain, that snow washes that ground and then goes down and becomes a creek, a stream, a river, and eventually goes into the Columbia River. And then so you have the water that washed a thousand places, congregate together, here. You have a place out here that has a hundred thousand prayers flowing through it. For centuries. How can that water not be sacred? Yeah you go up there and you can see it, you can feel it, the sacredness. And there’s all that living there. The salmon that travel through there, come back and bring us food, sustenance, keep their promise.”

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