Friday, April 23, 2010

Constant flooding forces out Pacific Northwest tribe

CNN: For the Hoh, life centers on the silver waters just off their reservation. Throughout the tiny Native American tribe's history they have lived and fished on the westernmost point of Washington state where the river that shares their name meets the Pacific Ocean.

According to the tribe's legends, the Hoh were created on the river by K'wati or the "Changer" in what the tribe refers to as the "Time of the Beginnings." In Hoh lore the tribe were "upside down people," who walked on their hands and struggled to throw fishing nets with their feet. K'wati, the legend goes, righted them and taught the tribe to live from fishing the river and ocean.

Those same waters now threaten the tribe's future. For tribe member and treasurer Amy Benally, the danger can be seen on the doorstep of her family's home that has stood at the mouth of the river for nearly a century.

Benally grew up there with 12 members of her family. Now the home is a gutted wreck from repeated flooding. At first the waters took out the garage and the small building Benally's grandfather used to smoke fish. Then the family had to flee upstairs. "We'd see the waves and the logs coming," Benally said standing in the musty ruin of the home. "We'd stand out here on the porch, and my grandfather would get mad at us and tell us to come back into the house. It was pretty scary."…

A forest on the Hoh River Trail, shot by Ellermeyer, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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