Trip Like I Do—Priest Rapids Dam, June 28

The genesis of this whole itinerary was my reading about Smohalla, a spiritual leader of the Wanapum people and prophet of the Washani (Dreamer) religion.

After yesterday’s extended quote from Eugene Smalley, I want to share a little of what Smohalla had to say:

“The work of the white man hardens soul and body. Nor is it right to tear up and mutilate the earth as white men do. … We simply take the gifts that are freely offered. We no more harm the earth than would an infant’s fingers harm its mother’s breast. But the white man tears up large tracts of land, runs deep ditches, cuts down forests, and changes the whole face of the earth. You know very well this is not right. Every honest man knows in his heart that this is all wrong. But the white men are so greedy they do not consider these things. … Do the white teachers believe what they teach?”

The Wanapum Heritage Center was closed when we visited. We did not fail to notice, however, that this site was almost designed to be ignored. There are no signs on the main highway telling you where to turn off to get here; you could easily fly by thinking this place was just another hydroelectric plant.

Power is the subtext of everything out here: visibility, invisibility, memory, oblivion.


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