Rocky Barker has a great post over at the Idaho Stateman about the history behind the restoration of the Elwha River and how the struggle for treaty rights played into that:
The most touching moments of the celebration marking the beginning of the end of the Elwha dams were tribal. They were the smiling faces on the children of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe who danced, drummed and sang in brand new outfits handcrafted for the occasion.
They were in the voices of the elder women who sang along with the Klallam love song. Who couldn’t smile during elder Ben Charles blessing, interrupted by husky belly laughs?
But the most significant moment came when tribal chairwoman took the carefully planned event off script to invite to the stage Billy Frank Jr. to speak.
Frank is a member of the Nisqually tribe, who, like the Elwha gave up land to the federal government in the 1850s in exchange for the right to fish in the usual and accustomed places in perpetuity. It was a right that was taken away in the 20th Century by an encroaching society that had little interest in the Indians traditional society and culture.