Unconquering the Last Frontier

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Unconquering the Last Frontier

  • 2000 ----- color ----- 57 min ----- vhs
  • There are some people in Native American country who say that each Native American people has its own "mother watershed"--for the Klallam of Olympic Peninsula that watershed is the Elwha. Since time immemorial, the river provided everything they needed, from the shellfish that were present at the mouth of the river, to the game that congregated along the upper banks, where they hunted. But in 1908, a dam was constructed on the Elwha. Despite its builder's assurances that fish passage for salmon would be provided, the dam had been built in a narrow canyon where there was simply no practical way to get the salmon around or over it. The Elwha Klallam watched in horror as their principal food source was decimated, their medicinal plants destroyed, their sacred sites inundated. For the long remainder of the 20th century the Elwha Klallam fought hard to survive. Now the tribal community is working to get the dams removed, so salmon can spawn once again in their "Holy River." Set against the dramatic backdrop of the ongoing "salmon crisis" in the Pacific Northwest, the film explores the relationship between a river and a culture "born" from it. It is a story about conflicting values, broken promises, and shifting priorities. And it is a tale whose complexities ripple outward-as a waterfront mill town begins to reconcile with its past.
  • Topics: (American Indian Studies, Ecology, Fisheries, Forest Resources, Pacific Northwest, Water)