The following report discusses evolving mutual aid projects along the Columbia River.
On May 18th, folks from Columbia River Indian Center, Lower Columbia Community Defense and Don’t Shoot Portland, along with many volunteers from Rainier, OR to Lyle, WA gathered in the spirit of mutual aid to serve Columbia River Indian fishing villages with donated and purchased camp gear, housewares, clothing, and a cook-out at Lyle Point.
The sacred setting is in the territory of the Upper Chinook, Cascade, Klickitat, Celilo Wyam, Wasco and Wishram Bands; as well as the Umatilla, Warm Springs, Nez Perce and Yakama Nations. Our project was dreamed and conceived of by Lana Jack, Standing Rock Water Protector and Celilo Wyam leader, minister and activist. Lana has been serving her river community for the last several years: advocating for the rights of the Celilo Wyam, operating a mobile food and clothing bank, and hosting an annual holiday feast and give-away every December, among other, tireless work and projects, all with very limited resources.
On the 18th, we worked under an expansive blue sky in the legendary Gorge winds, laying out at least 12 full truckloads of gear purchased and given from as far north as Vashon Island, WA. All those who attended contributed meat for the grill, side dishes, spring Chinook fresh from the river, smiles and full hearts. We served close to 75 adults and children who came and selected needed items. Resident families provided salmon for the feast, and welcomed us to the land.
It was an honor to serve community and to remember and honor the Ancestors at the site of the 1993 Occupation at Lyle Point. Columbia River Native folks living in the in-lieu sites have a long history of surviving lies and unfulfilled treaty promises. The federal government continues to operate at near snail pace to honor the treaties that promised the People housing in exchange for industrial development along the river which displaced thousands, in what is an ongoing act of genocide with the continued inundation of sacred Celilo Falls up river from The Dalles Dam. Yet, the People remain since time immemorial, in spite of calculated efforts at extermination and assimilation by colonization.
Upcoming projects are in the works for a gardening party at the sites, a canning party and exchange, continued provision of clothing, camp gear and cookouts or feed-ins, and continued advocacy that Indigenous voices and leaders in Canada and the US have a negotiating seat at the table for the international Columbia River Treaty Review.
River Community solidarity and mutual aid is a beautiful thing to be a part of! For more information or to volunteer with future aid projects, contact Don’t Shoot Portland, or Lower Columbia Community Defense, and follow Columbia River Bands of Indians page on Facebook.
Further reading and references:
Echo of Water Against Rocks, documentary on Celilo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWdxY_5DHq0
Lyle Point Occupation, 1993 footage with interviews:
Legal Limbo: One Oregon Tribe’s Fight for Federal Recognition:
Fish Camps Built on Broken Promises:
Columbia River Bands of Indians:
Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, History on Celilo Falls:
Don’t Shoot Portland:
Lower Columbia Community Defense: