Powwow at the End of the World
One careful look at the wild salmon crisis in the Pacific Northwest should give us a very clear indication that we have reaped the “bounty” while other species’, our relatives, go to their graves. Sure, it was our ancestors who got us into this mess, but we are here now and it is up to us to repair the damage.
Wild salmon are an endangered species. The Columbia-Snake River system, once one of the world’s most abundant salmon runs, has been stunted by four dams – Ice Harbor, Little Goose, Lower Monumental, and Lower Granite. All four of these aging dams have proven to be problematic and insufficient. Efforts to mitigate stress on salmon populations are failing and scientist are in agreement that taking out the dams is the single best thing we can do to save the salmon. Of six species of Pacific Salmon, five occur along the Pacific Northwest coast: pink, chum, sockeye, coho, and chinook. Sockeye have been all but wiped out.
Salmon are the most important of all commercial and sport fishes, yet we have polluted their waters, overfished them, and made it nearly impossible for them to get to and from their spawning grounds. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to save this species from going extinct.
On Thursday, December 1, 2016 from 7-9pm, Patagonia Portland will be hosting a party to raise awareness about our wild salmon and rivers.
This is not something to be taken lightly. Individuals are going to make the difference. We can’t sit around hoping that there are people fighting the fight for us. We can’t wait for politicians and agencies to make the calls we hope they will make. It’s time to take part in the action.
We are the products of our ancestors’ choices. Sure, we didn’t choose this world of circus politics, buildings on top of one another, and assigned gender roles. Much of what we do is far from any natural process. Against our will, our union with nature has been smeared away by advertisements for weight loss and the promise of happiness in a hallmark card. We live, breathe, buy, and die inside, far removed our whole lives from where we came from. With any sense of interconnection smothered, maybe annihilated, it’s no wonder humans have been able to adapt to their surroundings – when you remove yourself from something it is much easier to manipulate it. We have a track record for forcing things into submission to suite our wants.
But we don’t have to make the same mistakes. We can lead lives where we are actively engaging in the fate of our world. We can create the world we want to see. But it’s not going to happen if we stay inside. Opportunities like this do not come often. You can choose to be more connected to our earth and environment by simply showing up, enjoying a few free drinks and some food, and watching the screening of Damnation. And of course, there will be a raffle. The future of a closer communion with nature depends on you.
POWOW AT THE END OF THE WORLD
By Sherman Alexie
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam
and topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgive
and so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive dam
downriver from the Grand Coulee. I am told by many of you
that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters find
their way to the mouth of the Columbia River as it enters the Pacific
and causes all of it to rise. I am told by many of you that I must forgive
and so I shall after the first drop of floodwater is swallowed by that salmon
waiting in the Pacific. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after that salmon swims upstream, through the mouth of the Columbia
and then past the flooded cities, broken dams and abandoned reactors
of Hanford. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after that salmon swims through the mouth of the Spokane River
as it meets the Columbia, then upstream, until it arrives
in the shallows of a secret bay on the reservation where I wait alone.
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after
that salmon leaps into the night air above the water, throws
a lightning bolt at the brush near my feet, and starts the fire
which will lead all of the lost Indians home. I am told
by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after we Indians have gathered around the fire with that salmon
who has three stories it must tell before sunrise: one story will teach us
how to pray; another story will make us laugh for hours;
the third story will give us reason to dance. I am told by many
of you that I must forgive and so I shall when I am dancing
with my tribe during the powwow at the end of the world.