United by Water film screening at Patagonia in Seattle

“The River is sacred.  People will put aside their differences when it comes to the River and bringing back the salmon.”

– the late Virgil Seymour (1958 – 2016) Arrow Lakes (Sinixt) Facilitator for The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

Backbone Campaign is teaming up with Patagonia and several environmental organizations to show "United by Water," a documentary about indigenous canoe journeys on the Upper Columbia River. Following the screening, guests from the Upper Columbia United Tribes will speak about their work to restore the river.

Watch the trailer here.

RSVP Here.  By pre-registering, you'll help ensure we have enough food and drink for everyone AND you'll receive a raffle ticket for a Patagonia prize that night.

On June 14, 1940, thousands of Native Americans from throughout the Northwest gathered at Kettle Falls – thunderous waterfalls and one of the world’s richest salmon fishing sites – for a three-day “Ceremony of Tears” to mourn the loss of their ancestral fishing grounds, soon to be flooded by Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River.  “United by Water” documents the journey of five tribal communities to Kettle Falls, the fishing site of their ancestors, in the growing struggle to return salmon to the Upper Columbia and reclaim the lives and future for indigenous people.

The film, produced by the Upper Columbia United Tribes, headquartered in Spokane, shows breathtaking archival footage of the last salmon ceremony on the Columbia prior to the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam. It then documents the inspiring 2016 journey on the river – the building of the dugout canoes, the physical and spiritual journey on the Columbia River, and finally the emotional historic landing at Kettle Falls.

"United by Water" will show at the Patagonia Store in downtown Seattle at 7 pm. Representatives from the Upper Columbia United Tribes who appear in the film, D.R. Michel and John Sirois, will speak after the screening about their work, the renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty, the impact of the dams on salmon, and the annual canoe journeys on the River, utilizing dug out canoes.

The award-winning documentary highlights the need to recognize the importance of reconnecting to the Columbia River and restoring salmon runs. Not only does the film bring attention to the historic wrongs that blocked salmon from the Upper Columbia River, but it shares the current efforts by UCUT 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.

The film comes at a critical time as the US government has begun renegotiating the Columbia River Treaty and indigenous nations are advocating to the U.S. State Department their rightful place at the negotiation table to give voice to the Columbia River, salmon, and people of the river.

Partners of this film screening include the Upper Columbia United Tribes, Patagonia, Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Columbia Institute for Water Policy, Sierra Club’s Columbia River Future Project, and Save Our Wild Salmon. 

  • Orcas depend on Columbia River salmon for survival. 
  • Seattle is powered partly by Columbia River dams. 
  • The Trump and Trudeau Administrations are excluding tribes, First Nations from treaty negotiations about the future of the Columbia River. 
  • This film is timely, and we encourage you to attend and meet with tribal leaders.  Indigenous people need our help.
  • July 12, 2018 at 7pm – 9pm
  • Patagonia, Belltown, Seattle
  • Amy Morrison

Will you come?