Bill Yallup Jr: The Power of the River

In this excerpt, Bill Yallup Jr. talks about the power of the river and the respect given to it.

Bio: 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 a strong advocate for treaty-related rights.


There was a time when we weren’t even allowed to look at the river because the way you come to the river, you stop and say a prayer before you go over to the ridge and see the river for the first time. You don’t just go over the ridge and look at the river. That river’s powerful. And you affect it and it affects you. You bring good things to it, it gives you good things. So it’s just not a mass of water flowing downstream. It has a life. The earth is alive. Everything is alive. You’re alive. It has it’s own spirit, it’s own power. You have to bring to it good things, good spirit. You have to give it respect. You don’t allow children to go down there and play in it and you know, do things. You don’t throw cigarette butts into it or mess or anything in the water. You have to have a regard and respect for it.

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