Wilbur Slockish: “Water is the Giver of Life”

Wilbur Slockish (Yakama, Klickitat) talks about water as where life comes from and is a provider.

Bio: Wilbur Slockish was one of several men who were arrested along with David Sohappy for “illegally” fishing and selling their fish in a case known as “Salmon Scam”. (https://www.nwcouncil.org/history/SalmonScam) He was born in 1944 in Wapato, Washington and is a member of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. As a boy, he fished at Celilo Falls on the Columbia River. After Slockish was released from prison, he concentrated his efforts on water quality and health issues related to the Hanford Nuclear Power Plant. In 1994, Slockish fought and successfully banned the storage of Hanford nuclear waste on the Yakama Reservation.


“Water is the giver of life. If we don’t have any water we have no life. We need it to cleanse the land. Quench the land’s thirst. Because the land’s thirsty too. And it needs water on it to grow crops. And it provides me with my needs. And if I don’t have this river, then I have no life. And I …. It’s hard to put it into words, my love for this place. This is where all of my old, old people are buried, and when my time on this world ends, that’s where I want to be. Because the sound — even though the roar of the river, the free-flowing has been limited — but it’s still my homeland. My river.”

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