Indigenous voices rise on June 14 at the Capitol Theatre with three short films about water, salmon, rivers and climate change. The evening opens at 7 p.m. with the stirring sounds of the Sinixt drumming circle from Inchelium, Washington. It will feature the award-winning United by Water, an account of the first tribal canoe journey to the historic salmon fishery at Kettle Falls, since the construction of Grand Coulee Dam in 1942.
Directed by Derrick La Mere of War Pony Pictures, United by Water follows several Interior Salish tribes of the upper Columbia River basin as they carve dugout canoes and return to their traditional waterways on a journey to Kettle Falls in 2016. Sponsored by the Upper Columbia United Tribes, the film contains archival footage from the last Salmon Ceremony on a free-running river in 1940, now known as the Ceremony of Tears. The construction of Grand Coulee Dam stopped migration of salmon into the upper Columbia and its Canadian tributary streams, a loss the tribes are now working to reverse through their advocacy for fish passage.
This timely film tours just as the Canada and U.S. have begun renegotiating the Columbia River Treaty. Indigenous people on both sides of the international boundary are advocating strongly to the U.S. State Department and Canadian Federal government for a place at the negotiating table, to give voice to the needs of the Columbia River, salmon, and healthier ecosystems.
A second film, Upriver, chronicles the devastating ecological effects of the 2014 Mt. Polley Mine disaster and its impact on the indigenous community of Xat’sull (near Williams Lake B.C.) The film comes to Nelson in its tour across British Columbia as part of Stand for Water, a movement raising awareness about the benefits of improved practices and better regulations for mining in B.C. Stand for Water was co-founded by Jacinda Mack, a Secwepemc and Nuxalk woman whose home community was severely impacted by the spill. As a mother, water protector and Indigenous woman Mack advocates greater care of waterways with a clear and compassionate voice.
The third film, A 6,000-Mile Search for Beauty, takes an experimental and evocative tone. Local filmmaker Amy Allcock interprets a 2016 journey undertaken by Columbia Basin author Eileen Delehanty Pearkes. Supported by a grant from the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, Pearkes travelled the West to understand the resilience of rainforest ecosystems. Her connection with the indigenous traditions and cultures of these rainforests, led her to understand a balanced, resilient way to live. The brief film offers a powerful antidote for how to live more harmoniously in a world of significant climatic and cultural change.
This is a free event, sponsored by the Capitol Theater, the Upper Columbia United Tribes and the Sinixt. Tickets at the door.