Today, spent on the water, was possibly my favorite day. I was outside as much as the hot day allowed enjoying the beautiful scenery and the pin-drop silence of our surroundings. The low rolling hills looked like honey-colored velvet from a distance and the clouds continuously morphed into interesting shapes. We passed a few grain silos, could see long trains in the distance, and went through four dams that took us up an additional 400 feet. Each dam had a special system that assisted baby salmon headed downstream. I enjoyed two cookie breaks, read, chatted with Zoe and the cook at the grill, and when I couldn’t put it off any longer, I reluctantly packed.
This afternoon’s lecture was a perfect compliment to this evening’s entertainment: the Nez Perce. The lecturer told the disheartening story of the 1855 treaty that forced all Indians in this area onto large reservations. Things deteriorated further for the Indians, custodians of the land for millennia, when the Gold Rush continued to bring uncontrolled numbers of bound-and-determined prospectors to the area and the government took away 90% of the reservation that had been guaranteed by the treaty! Cindy explained all of this to us as well as the role that Chief Joseph, an eloquent speaker and writer, played in trying to broker an awareness and sensitivity on the part of white citizens to the plight of their fellow citizens, Indians. No happy ending there.
On the flip side, our entertainment tonight was uplifting. Maurice “Pistol Pete” Wilson, an Indian dressed in beautiful traditional garb, introduced himself, spoke briefly about the pride Indians have in their heritage, and highlighted his pride in having served in the Navy. He then honored a veteran in the group with an Indian blessing. Pistol Pete passed the mic to a young Nez Perce woman dressed in traditional Indian regalia who explained her beautiful outfit. Her dress was made out of two 75-year-old bighorn sheep hides; her necklace and other adornments incorporated numerous porcupine quills; her woven hat looked like a basket turned upside down on her head; her striking moccasins were heavily beaded; and her beautifully beaded bag, 58 years old, was passed from her grandmother to her mother and is now in her care. She danced for us and spoke of the hope she has for the future of all Indian tribes. It was the perfect end to the official part of the cruise.
By bedtime we were tied up in Clarkston, our final destination, but slept onboard.
… For What Its Worth …
The Snake, 1,078 miles long, is the largest tributary of the Columbia River.
Oregon is now home to nine federally recognized tribal nations, plus several unrecognized tribes.
Eight tribes own casinos in Oregon.
Clarkston is named for Clark of the famous and oft-mentioned expedition.