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News from the Coalition for the Deschutes

Feature film/panel event on January 30th: United By Water: Culture, Fish, Water

United By Water: Culture, Fish, Water

The inspiring journey of Upper Columbia River tribal communities as they reconnect with their tribal traditions and the river.

Tuesday, January 30th
Doors open at 5:30 pm; program begins at 6:30 pm
Deschutes Brewery Mountain Room
901 SW Simpson Ave, Bend, 97702
Tickets available at:

The film will be followed by a panel discussion about rivers and how we relate to and understand them.  Panelists are:

United by Water tells the story of the inspiring journey undertaken by Upper Columbia tribal communities to Kettle Falls, the fishing site of their ancestors, for the first time in 80 years.

It is a story about the tribes’ reconnection with their traditions and heritage, and with the river that was once so integral to their way of life.

Kettle Falls is now the site of the Grand Coulee Dam. In 1940, the tribes held a Ceremony of Tears to mark the final time they saw Kettle Falls.


First, here’s a short 2-minute segment from OPB about the film.
Also, an impactful poem by the film’s narrator – acclaimed author/poet/screenwriter/filmmaker – Alexie Sherman (and a wiki link) related to the core theme of the film, called “Pow-Wow at the End of the World”.

United by Water has received national attention and has been accepted into several film festivals. Directed by Derrick LaMere of War Pony Pictures, this film follows the first tribal canoe journey and gathering at Kettle Falls since the Ceremony of Tears in 1940. The film, narrated by famed author Sherman Alexie, documents this inspiring journey in 2016—building the canoes, the physical and spiritual journey on the Columbia River, and finally the historic landing at Kettle Falls.

The timely film highlights the need to recognize the importance of reconnecting to the Columbia River and restoring our salmon runs. Not only does the film bring attention to the historic wrongs that blocked salmon from the Upper Columbia River; it also shares the current efforts by Upper Columbia United Tribes and other tribes to bring forward tribal traditions to help better understand what is lacking in our contemporary society. We need to forge a deeper connection to the waters that bring life to our communities.

United by Water offers an example of how, working together, we can act and make a positive difference for the future of our shared ecosystem.

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