Echoes of Yesterday, by Lon Gibby Productions
This is a documentary that tells an important part of the History of Washington State and the local Native people. It is about a reclamation project headed by my dad, Howard T. Ball, founder of Ball and Dodd Funeral Home in Spokane, Washington. He was in charge of relocating the native graves that were going to be covered by water when Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State was built. (The lake that was created was called Lake Roosevelt.) All of the sacred burial sites would be relocated before the dam was finished. He removed just over 1300 graves. He hired mostly Indian labor and worked closely with the native people and their chief, who were able to find the remains, and relocate them in new cemeteries established above the pending water line. The water would later rise 1300 feet above the normal level of the Columbia River. During this reclamation project he became a friend of Jim James, who was the Chief of the San Poil people. (San Poil is one of the Colville Confederated Tribes) Chief James taught Dad how to find many of the old burial sights.
Chief, Jim James, Howard T. Ball, Henry Covington
Howard T. Ball (top row, right) with Chief Jim James (bottom row, right)
and friends and family
Dad took pictures and movies of the entire project. This video was later made by Lon Gibby Productions from his original film, taken in 1939. You will see my dad interviewed in this amazing documentary of this important part of North American history.
The video shows many of the pictures and film taken at Kettle Falls where Native People had fished for generations. This location was considered a sacred place, and if anyone passed away while fishing at Kettle Falls, they were buried above the fishing grounds.
This evacuation was a huge loss for all of the local tribes of the region – the loss of their fishery, and the salmon that had fed their people for centuries.
In 1940, the American Indians of the Pacific Northwest gathered in remembrance, and mourned the loss of their ancestral fishing grounds. The gathering lasted for three days and was called “The Ceremony of Tears”.
It was estimated that eight to ten thousand people attended. Thus, this video shows the impact that the Grand Coulee Dam had on the Native People.
Purchase this video here: Echoes of Yesterday
See my blog post and a poem that I wrote as a tribute to the Indian people of this region. Ceremony of Tears, The Building of Grand Coulee Dam and a Tribute to the Local Indian People