Sponsored by Oregon Business

Getting straight on Celilo

| Print |  Email
Monday, January 01, 2007

Regarding the letter from James P. Miller, it appears that some myths regarding the Columbia River Indians refuse to die [LETTERS, DECEMBER]. I would point out the following information, most of it obtained from the records of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Indian Affairs while doing research for my book, Empty Nets: Indians, Dams and the Columbia River.

There has never been a “Celilo Tribe.” The small core of people who lived at the original Celilo Village were the Wy’am. The $26 million settlement was paid to the four treaty tribes as compensation for the loss of Celilo Falls as the premier fishing site that had provided the sole or major source of livelihood for hundreds of Indian families for centuries. By the time The Dalles Dam was built, the Celilo Village site had been squeezed to less than seven acres by the railroad, the Celilo Canal and the Columbia River Highway. There is no record of any compensation to the Indian residents.

In 1949 the Corps bought 34 acres south of the railroad (the current Celilo Village site). It built water and sewer systems, both now badly deteriorated, and 10 homes.

In 1950 Congress appropriated $210,000 to relocate permanent residents of Celilo. This did not cover the dozens of families who lived there six months or more every year and left only during winter months. Records are not clear as to the number of people compensated for destroyed houses. The records say about two dozen families still lived in the old village in 1955, when they were removed. Appraisals valued the majority of homes at $200-$800, while even modest replacement homes would cost $7,700. Some of the displaced Indians moved to the new Celilo Village, where they were housed in surplus Army tents. To say “the planning and compensation were coordinated by a commission that included members of the tribe” gives a distorted picture. The tribes negotiated for the settlement over loss of the fishing at Celilo. The rest was pretty well dictated by the government and reluctantly accepted by the Indians as the best they could get.

Roberta Ulrich


More Articles

Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.


Keep Pendleton Weird

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Eastern Oregon marketers refocus rural assets through an urban lens.


Meet Me at the Crossroads, ESPN

The Latest
Friday, October 30, 2015

Worldwide Leader in Sports struggles to cope with new media landscape, forcing us to adjust our behavior as consumers.


Reader Input: In or Out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The refugee crisis has put immigration and border issues on the front burner, in Europe and at home. In Oregon, attitudes toward illegal immigration haven’t changed dramatically since 2006.



Linda Baker
Thursday, November 12, 2015
111215-taxilindaBY LINDA BAKER

Raye Miles, a 17-year taxi industry veteran, lacked the foresight to anticipate the single biggest trend in the cab business: breaking the law.


Company Present Accepted

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

’Tis the season of giving — and that goes far beyond trees drowning in Lego sets and ironic knitwear. Santa Claus knows corporations are people too, in need of gifts to warm the hearts (and stomachs) of even the most Grinch-like CFOs.


Photos: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon awards dinner

The Latest
Thursday, October 01, 2015
100best202thumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the big 2015 celebration of worker-friendly organizations that make a difference.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02