Sunday, May 1, 2011

1 May 1957 “Celillo Falls, Oregon”

nixondallesdam Vice president Richard Nixon speaking at a dedication of the Dalles dam.
In 1952 the Army Corp of Engineers began the construction of a concrete dam to run a new electric power company in Oregon. They completed the dam in 1957. On March 10, hundreds of observers looked on as the rising waters rapidly silenced the falls, submerged fishing platforms, and consumed the village of Celilo. The various falls had been a part of the communities food and money. Here is a poignant video about that day and its affects on the local people... (Read Entire Post)

Some might say, “Oh, why would you care more about some fish and nature than jobs” or others might say “We must do everything to preserve the past” but really, both of these arguments are simply politics. They are simply lines drawn in the sand for we to choose a side and argue. Then, with our being busy hating one another, the world simply does what it wants. Or, in this case, the government. When people cease to care about a group of peoples livelihood over progress, what does that mean for each of us? When it is our turn to give way, how will we feel then?

I think what scares me most about a situation like this isn’t just that people lost a means of feeding themselves and that the landscape lost its natural flow (important to making clean drinking water that we ALL need in the water tables) but that our government was able to do this. The small people of this area, Native’s and White American’s alike, had no say in any of it. They wanted to build a large power plant and have the area more navigable by large ships, so they just did it. They literally flooded out an area that belonged to a community.
This scares me because if this happened in 1957, what can happen to us today? What things do we hold dear in our own states, or towns, or lives that can simply be taken away by the government because they hold all the power and we are shouting on opposite sides of various arguments.
What happens when what you hold dear suddenly comes under the propaganda of whatever the buzzword happens to be: “Oh, you like your downtown and your park, well what about the jobs of the people who get to tear it down and pave it over, what about them?” Good argument until you are on the other side of it. When the jobs are gone because the need is no longer there rather than a more smaller self supporting form of renewable jobs.
It is moments like this, when I find these bits of information in the past,  having never heard of them before, and wonder: where are we now? How have we got here?
When I think of what passes for news today and the past, our recent past, is littered with incidents of our civil liberties being taken away and our American way of life being conveniently re-written to suit the current powers that be, all of which is simply a ruse for about 5 % of the large business in this country (though much of their manufacturing and power sits outside the country as well).
I laugh now when I hear people say in one breath that they want the ‘old USA of 1950’s’ and then talk about propping up all the big government and big business (for they are one in the same). The epitome of 1950’s American, President Eisenhower himself, became so disillusioned by the end of his presidency at the end of the decade, that he warned us all of the military industrial complex. The 1950’s was about the growth of the middle class. Jobs growing and communities growing. Yet, while that was happening, our public transport and abilities to not have monopolies were being stripped away. The hope and greatness in which we had in the 1950’s we let slip away so quickly because we began to draw these lines in the sand. When the 1960’s arrived there were suddenly ‘sides’ to American’s hopes and dreams. When, in reality, the vast majority of Americans simply wanted a good life and a chance to have and live in a nice town and raise a family. We were not all out to be John D. Rockefeller’s, yet somehow that was sold to us. Then those of us who didn’t believe this lie began to become polarized with those who did. If we didn’t all want to be rich we were suddenly un-American. The power of advertising and propaganda is a powerful tool, used in wars all the time.
I think one of the most harmful and easily propagated lie to become part of our American fabric is the lie that we ALL WANT to and all CAN be millionaires. First off, it is literally impossible for there to be endless super wealthy people, because in order to be so you must monopolize the business and commodities in which you are in. Yet the increased display of false wealth (cheap clothes one could buy easily, gadgets easy to get, cars on payment plans and so on) all lead us to believe we were somehow on this path to riches. When in fact we are the most poor we have been in a long time. It might not be the Depression, but that is because in the Depression they did not have credit cards, The Gap, and Large Grocery stores with cheap food from overseas. We are all poorer and in greater debt than we have been in a long time. Yet we somehow feel we are in a good position.
If we were allowed to let various people become simply millionaires and then a good healthy middle class, what a country we could be. Yet, today those who are wealthy are VERY wealthy and the divide between those and any ‘millionaires’ are going fast. They are joining the ranks of the put upon and failing middle and working classes. We are probably more like the Edwardians but with technology: Robber Barons and the masses.
I know this rant might seem a bit over the top for something that happened back in 1957, but think if this came to your town. If you had an industry and natural element in your own town and the government simply came in and took it away, no questions asked. And if you tried to make a stink, you would simply be labeled by your ‘fellow Americans’ far away as trouble makers. Think of those industries were simply replaced by large Industry that covered your state and took away the individual industries of fishing or farming town by town? Where are you then? At whose benefit has this progress come?
One of the reasons I have had the need to move forward in time to the present while still keeping my investigation and curiosity in the 1950’s was this point exactly. The increased loss of our freedoms and power over our own land and towns and cities.
What and when will be the next Celilo? And how many have we had along the way?


  1. Congratulations on your new design - VERY NICE, I truly love it! Perfectly fifties! :)
    But I miss a link to your previous posts. I'm a little behind due to our renovation, but don't want to miss any of you lovely posts.
    Wishing you a nice day.

  2. Sanne-Thank you. Previous posts can be accessed either by clicking OLDER POSTS in the bottom right under these comments-see it down there in pink?
    And on the sidebar to the right under the GRAB THIS BUTTON is the BLOG ARCHIVE POST where you can choose any post by date, simple easy and fun!
    Thanks. I am excited about the new layout.
    I really feel like this is the right segway into the modern world with my feet still firmly planted in the past. We really are living in incredible changing times right now!

  3. I changed it so you can access previous posts below, hope that helps.

  4. Thank you, dear, that's perfect. :)
    Now BLOG ARCHIVE POST is at the bottom, what makes it much earsier to find what I'm looking for.


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