The fish wheel in the back ground looms like a dragon, ready to pounce, and devour a way of life, hungry and impermanent. I often dream of the other years,
Celilo Falls, post card. ca. 1930
but often find myself barely able to remember how to fish as I browse the supermarket aisle for the freshest caught bargain. Irony showers my existence. I feel like there is this wind that is blowing so hard it will knock the ‘Indian’ right out of me. I watch the flat surface of the lake that now covers the “echoes of falling water”, and see my cousins being shunned from their tribes for not having enough blood-quantum, and tribes, such as the Wy’am and many Columbia River Indians, not being seen as a Sovereign Nation and I feel lost. To be honest, Gathering the Stories is my anchor, or stump, you could say, to this wind, and I must say, it scares the living shit out of me to know that my offspring will no longer be considered part of a tribe.
Read about Celilo Falls from the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission here
Read about the dis-enrollment of Chief Tumulth’s descendants from the Grande Ronde Tribe based on blood-quantum here
Read “Recalling Celilo: An Essay by Elizabeth Woody” from the book “Salmon Nation: People, Fish and Our Common Home” here
‘Chehalis’ | © 2015 H a v e n
A thirst lingers even when the rainy seasons fall. A thirst for old ways that seem to be eaten by the rusty splinters of time. Injected with the last breath, tree gives way to steel, steel gives way to silicone. I sometimes get in my car and drive as hard and as far away as I can, where stories still linger in old dusty corners, and the quiet nod of the neighbor is the loudest conversation heard all day. I drive until beauty overwhelms my senses, pull over and exhale. I drink in the mists, eat the landscape and remember how to pray.
‘Dream |V’ | © 2015 H a v e n
I use to pray, even if the sounds echoed into empty space. I felt some faith those words would reach some distant star and portals would open up in the night sky. But, instead, I would dream. I would dream until I forgot it was I was dreaming about, what was the reason for the journey? I often find the journey is the only thing that keeps me still, most times, nodding off to the narcotic rhetoric of the modern age. It is in these journeys, I meet my guides, who, with unforeseen hands, move the air of the fates in and out of existence and Coyote always seems to wake me up right before the climax. Now I pray to keep this car on the road as it climbs into the mists of unseen vistas, comprehending god.
‘Pleasant Hill’ | © 2015 H a v e n
Myth, I believe is subject to the winds of which it is blown. Times have changed, and times are changing, but the story tellers are lost behind their reality TV shows and quick fix GMO hungry man. Myth, feeling lost, stagnant, forgotten, found homes in the catharsis of our youth. And sometimes, judge Judy and Jerry Springer are the only story tellers we have left. So be it. I will keep driving, and if some one stops to share a bit of forgotten, timeless wisdom, I am all ears…..
Celilo Falls, post card. ca. 1930
‘I seem to have shown up at a strange and vulnerable time… a time of the in-medias-res or the in-between. My memory has been altered by many things and, at times, I feel like I am suffering from a incurable cultural amnesia, similar to putting a jigsaw together with no image. Image is there, but it is not my own.. it is from the bias of others, for my ancestors knew little of the industrial revolution until one day, they were violently thrown into the orgy. Yes, it has been tragic, and yes, it has been human.. but, it has allowed a different kind of breathing, or at least that is what I have to work with.’
- A paragraph from the book that I am writing.
Sometimes when I look at these pictures, I can hear the wind blowing the sweet smell of Spring rains up through the Gorge. I am Indigenous to this very spot, the Cascades on the Columbia, yet, I am the immigrant carrying goods upriver and I am the hands that would build the dam that would silence it forever. I am of many stories.
Photo: Columbia River below the Cascades, looking west (downriver) showing sternwheeler, probably the Bailey Gatzert. c. 1901
A Single Tear
She who keeps on watching immortalized from a stone
window along the banks of the mighty Columbia.
She who has watched men walk on the backs of a million
Salmon & then fall in.
She who has seen the mighty river get fat & overflow
her banks behind pale dams.
She who has seen children grow under the glow of the moon
& the new glow of hanford.
She who has seen a people cry in silent tolling for the old ways
demolished beneath the feet of a civilization determined & arrogant.
She who has seen Coyote play many tricks in his sinister loving way.
She who has seen canoes morph to steam & barges
carrying hope up river.
She who has seen fires turn to street lamps.
She who has seen the battles of Pah-toe & Wy’east
& their long eerie silence.
She who has seen a river run red with blood of the lost.
(They say that one who has seen too much with no way to let it go
will more likely suffer from Post- Traumatic -Stress-Disorder which
manifests in different forms; from anxiety to unstoppable tears.)
She Who Watches weeps a single tear.
Edward S. Curtis photo.
The night I Met Jesus at the Sidetrack Tavern,
“Anonymity among men is better than all the fame in Heaven..”
I once saw Jesus drinking whiskey in a smoky bar, observing the last supper of bad livers. His beard finely groomed awash in ash and too drunk to notice the drool.
He stands a stumble, catching himself on his barstool and meanders awkwardly to the angelic jukebox. A fire of light shadows across his ancient face- he baptizes 2 quarters to the soundtrack of sadness. Alone he dances with himself to the blues of heaven, unaware of flesh, tempted in a purgatorial trance, bumping into tables on his way down to the soiled bar room floor.
‘Anonymity among men is better than all the fame in heaven”, he shouts out loud the words of keurouc and “right now i am making an ass out of myself’ he continues as he makes his way back to uneasy feet.
Twitching angelic and nervous he walks out the doors of the florescent illuminated purgatory.
it was the strangest night…….
Grandmother was born on the threshold of a new age.
Assuming the role of a Father’s neglect
and a savior of a generation left with no shrine
So I build this altar of memory.
I remember her smell
Of prime rib and perfume-
Chasing me around with sinister dentures
And telling Skookum stories-
Scaring me from flesh
And finding my heart.
She dreamt and had visions
But kept them to herself-
Yet I could see them
In her eyes.
Her wrinkles ran like Gorges-
Where the tears would
And the struggle
Was her life
That she would
Rites of passage transformed
In cigarettes and Patsy Cline
And looking for love
In all the wrong places.
We are all children
I lay a feather on this altar
And hear the wind sing-
“Fall to pieces.”
Sit silent in the chorus of Frog songs.
dripping heavy, the Creek runs whitewash.
In these moments.
I can hear the land weep.
The Frogs regain their voice.
and we sing in unison.
with shaky words
and sore backs.
and disappear in the wash
How blessed are we
to still hear these,
composed beneath the Summer Moon,
©2013 H a v e n
It’s that distinct way that wood smoke pummels into the mist
and the way the Sun fights to be regonized.
It’s that certain way the trees turn to golden reds
and hues of Ambers.
It’s that certain way the mud gets stuck in my boots
and the moist ground summons the fungus to the sky
and then back to its orgins.
It’s that certain way the fog dances across the grassy plains.
It’s that certain way that the Elk rut
and you can hear their bugle calls
over the hushed quiet of fall.
It’s that certain way when you know the white blanket will come
and engulf us soon
and the wood smoke
and Hearths will be the only thing we know.
And in a certain way I give thanks
because in a certain way-
this is what it is all about.
All the petty and the trite
gets buried in this scene-
the mists rising above the waters like ghosts.
It is these ghosts I give up now,
an offering of smoke.
©2013 H a v e n