Confluence to Invest in Education as Celilo Park Project Put On Hold

Dear friends,

I want to share with you an important update on the Confluence Project proposed at Celilo Park, which is designed to connect people with the rich Indigenous history of Celilo Falls. As you know, this art landscape is the sixth and final installation by Confluence in collaboration with Columbia River tribes and the celebrated artist Maya Lin. The Celilo Park Project is now on hold because of opposition from the Yakama Nation tribal government.

Our work at Celilo continues to have support from three other Columbia River treaty tribes: Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the Nez Perce Tribe. They see a redeveloped Celilo Park as an opportunity to educate people about Celilo Falls, honor the Indigenous people of the Columbia River and strengthen the tribal presence in the public places along the river.

But the Yakama Nation has told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Celilo Park, that it does not support any development that encourages public access there and wishes the park to be decommissioned. The Corps has said it will only move forward with the park redevelopment project with the support of all four of these tribes along the Columbia River. Confluence has been respectfully seeking to re-establish that support.

Over the last several months, we have held a series of meetings with tribal councils, partners and advisors. Based on their guidance, Confluence will redirect its energies toward ongoing education initiatives, including Confluence in the Classroom, Confluence Outdoors, professional development for teachers and a digital resource for educators, visitors and anyone curious about a more inclusive understanding of the Columbia River system.

We have taken this as an opportunity to listen respectfully and reflect. Our guiding principles for moving forward are to listen first to our tribal partners and respect all voices along the Columbia River. We also remember our commitments. At this moment, it is more important to do this right than it is to do it right now.

Celilo Falls is a natural wonder in the Columbia River and a historic center of fishing, commerce and spiritual life since time immemorial. The Dalles Dam flooded Celilo Falls in 1957. The three artistic elements of the Confluence Project designed by Maya Lin are an interpretive pavilion, sculptural relief of the Columbia River and an elevated walkway inspired by traditional fishing platforms. The project also includes badly needed repairs to the parking lot and facilities at Celilo Park.

The mission of Confluence is to connect people with the history, living cultures and ecology of the Columbia River system through Indigenous voices. We will continue to advance that mission through five completed art landscapes, educational programming and community gatherings. This work remains as important as ever.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or observations. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Warmest regards,

Colin Fogarty

Executive Director