The Columbia River: From Source to Sea

Photographs by Peter Marbach

The Columbia River begins its wild and free flow from Lake Columbia in BC

January 19 – April 1, 2017

  • Free for Members
  • Family-friendly
  • Teachers
  • Handicap Accessible Friendly

Oregon Historical Society
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Portland, Oregon 97205
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The Columbia River flows for over 1200 miles, born free in the cradle of the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia. From its humble beginnings from a tiny spring you can straddle, to a two mile wide confluence with the Pacific Ocean, the river flowed for thousands of years in a natural state of astounding beauty. It was also the place of a miraculous ancient migration of pacific salmon that came all the way home to the headwaters in Canada.

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.