The Hoodoos sandstone cliff formations rise above Dutch Creek in the Columbia Valley in BC. Scientists say they were formed by melting glaciers 11,000 years ago but according to the local Ktunaxa Nation creation story, the hoodoos were the decompositions of a mighty fish's ribs and flesh.
Peter Marbach straddles the headwaters of the Columbia River near Canal Flats, BC. The source is an underground spring most likely fed from the nearby Kootenay River.
The Columbia River begins its flow to the ocean from the north end of Lake Columbia. From here the river flows north, wild and free for nearly 200 kilometers.
The Purcell Mountains reflect in calm waters of the Columbia at sunset near Spillimacheen, BC. This free flowing region is home to the largest intact wetland ecosystem in North America.
The Columbia Rivers winds north in a series of undulating curves near Fairmont, BC. Both tourists and big horn sheep flock to Fairmount in the winter for the warmth and nurturing of abundant natural hot springs.
Akisqnuk First Nation elder Pete Sanchez greet participants during Friendship Dance at the annual national Aboriginal Day celebration along the shore of the Columbia near Windermere, BC. There are 634 recognized First Nations governments in Canada.
Wildflowers glow during last light on Dog Mountain, Washington
The era of dams brought great contributions including clean hydropower, flood control, and irrigation that created a rich agricultural bounty for the Northwest. In 1964, the U.S. and Canada enacted a 50 year treaty that focused on these benefits but did not address the restoration of ecosystems and the impact on tribal nations. The Columbia River Treaty is now being re-negotiated. Thanks to persistent efforts lead by First Nations in Canada and numerous tribes in the United States, we now have a once in a generation opportunity to ensure that language is adopted to include ecosystem restoration and the eventual return of pacific salmon into Canada.
While this exhibit showcases the beauty, culture, and geographic diversity of Nch I Wana – The Big River, it is the hope of photographer Peter Marbach that this display will launch greater public awareness and encourage those at the negotiating table to consider the moral obligation of honoring aboriginal knowledge of river restoration and to harness the will and existing technology to bring back the ancient runs of salmon that will once again make the Columbia a life giving source to all.