THE DALLES, Ore. - In 1950, the U.S. Government authorized the construction of The Dalles Dam. Meanwhile, several local tribes a few miles upstream were thriving, spending their days fishing and trading at Celilo Falls.
By 1957, the dam was complete. Just six hours after the dam's gates closed, Celilo Falls was inundated.
Tribal members say they lost more than a fishing site that day. Ronnie Washines, program director for Yakama Nation multi-media services, says, "It was a passing, something was lost forever, like a family member passing. Naturally, you have emotions that run high.
The tribe was compensated for the loss. The settlement states, "The government will pay the total sum of $15,019,640 to the tribe, as full consideration for the destruction or inundation of these usual and accustomed fishing stations..."
Washines says Celilo Falls is still a tough subject for many, but the tribe is cautiously optimistic about another settlement. "I think there's a lot of younger people who are interested in looking into it." he says.