UPDATED — Only debris left to clean up as Elwha River is free to travel its own path [ **WITH VIDEO ** ]

The final blast of Glines Canyon Dam, the Elwha is Free from John Gussman on Vimeo.


By Arwyn Rice, Peninsula Daily News


OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — The Elwha River is free.

The final 30-foot section of the Glines Canyon Dam was destroyed by an explosion at 4:12 p.m. Tuesday when crews with Barnard Construction Inc. of Bozeman, Mont., detonated charges at the site.

“It’s done,” said Barb Maynes, spokeswoman for Olympic National Park. “We accomplished what was planned.”

(EDITOR’S NOTEJohn Gussman, the Sequim-based cinematographer who has been documenting the $325 million Elwha River restoration/dam removal project and co-producer of “Return of the River,” a new film on the restoration — has posted a short video on Tuesday’s blast at Glines Canyon Dam. It’s embedded at the right.)

The blast set the waterway loose to return to its original riverbed in Glines Canyon for the first time since 1927.

The older, already destroyed Elwha Dam downriver was completed in 1913.

With both monoliths gone, the Elwha River is free to cut its own course — except for debris from Tuesday’s explosion — for the first time in more than a century.

“Concrete rubble remains and will be cleared from the channel in the coming weeks,” Maynes said.

See real-time webcam photos of the sites of the former Elwha and Glines Canyon dams as well as the emptied reservoirs behind them: http://www.video-monitoring.com/construction/olympic/js.htm

Downriver from the blast, the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe celebrated the victory.

“It’s a good day. It was the last spot [blocking the] fish to access the rest of the river,” said Robert Ellefson, the Elwha restoration manager for the tribe.

“It has been the dream of tribal members for a hundred years,” Ellefson said.

The tribe will celebrate the river’s full opening in July 2015, during the traditional ceremony to welcome the Chinook salmon back to the Elwha River, he said.

Removing the 30-foot-tall stub of the dam was the last structural piece remaining of the $325 million Elwha River restoration project, which began in 2011 and will continue through 2016.

The destruction of the 108-foot Elwha Dam began in September 2011, and it was completely removed by March 2012.

The explosives packed into dozens of holes drilled into the Glines Canyon Dam’s remains demolished the mass of cement and rebar, much of which was covered in sediment washed down from the former Lake Mills that once existed behind the dam.

The site of the once-210-foot-tall dam built in 1927 is located 13 miles from the mouth of the Elwha River in Olympic National Park.

For the next six to eight weeks, Barnard Construction crews will scoop out concrete debris from the river channel to help re-establish the original riverbed levels and remove rebar and other debris left behind by the blasts.

Concrete from the dam will be trucked to the county road facility on Place Road where it will be pulverized and turned into road base.

Once the demolition and cleanup is complete, the park will continue replanting and restoration of the former lakebeds and begin working on the abutments on both sides of the dam site, which the park plans to open as public viewing areas — providing a 100-foot high viewpoint — by the end of 2014.

Plans include installing railings for visitor safety and interpretive signs, Maynes has said.

Removing the Elwha Dam, which was built 5 miles from the river’s mouth in 1913, was a slower process as demolition machinery ate away at the top of the dam notch by notch until it was reduced to a stub.

Both dams lacked fish ladders — a requirement in place at the time of their construction — and no longer produced enough electricity to be of use to the nearby communities that once depended on the river for all of their power needs.

The installation of the Elwha Dam eliminated the ability of salmon to access 65 of the 70 miles of salmon habitat.

Salmon runs on the river were reduced from more than 400,000 — including records of 100-pound chinook salmon — to only a few thousand, breeding in the lower tributaries and riverbanks.

A population of sockeye was trapped above the Elwha Dam, and colonized Lake Sutherland as kokanee sockeye, a smaller, freshwater variation of the species.

The kokanee are expected to begin returning to the sea and restore native populations of sockeye to the river.

Fish biologists have said that they expect all five salmon species native to the river will return.

Currently, the slope from the rapids near the former Glines Canyon Dam are too steep for the fish to get past the dam, but once the sediments are washed away to the level of the original streambed, a series of resting pools are expected to form along the canyon, enabling the fish to recolonize all 70 miles of river and tributaries.

Similarly, the millions of tons of sediment that should have been released from the Elwha River mouth has emptied into the Strait of Juan de Fuca to feed the beaches of Crescent Bay and Ediz Hook, were trapped behind the dams.

By 2011, the beaches were reduced to platter-sized cobbles and Ediz Hook was rebuilt with rip-rap by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to preserve access to the U.S Coast Guard station at its tip.

Since the removal of Elwha Dam and the reduction of Glines Canyon Dam, more than 80 acres of beaches have been built by those sediments at the mouth of the river, and on nearby beaches.

Video: Klamath Fish Kill Redux? Teens Tell Grown-Ups to ‘Put More Water in the River’

YouTube/Yurok youth videoThis is what the Klamath River looked like in 2002, when conditions were similar to those present now. Releasing water from the Trinity River into the Klamath would cool it down and raise water levels, enabling fish to survive.
YouTube/Yurok youth video
This is what the Klamath River looked like in 2002, when conditions were similar to those present now. Releasing water from the Trinity River into the Klamath would cool it down and raise water levels, enabling fish to survive.


“It’s time to put more water in the river.”

So says one teen in this video put together by Yurok youth who, fearful of a fish kill on the Klamath River in California, went out and interviewed tribal leaders as well as those who witnessed mass fish death in 2002.

Water levels are low in the river, and the temperature is rising. Fish, especially salmon about to spawn, congregate in the cooler water, and their proximity can spread disease—which gets cultivated in warmer water. In 2002 this resulted in the deaths of 60,000 to 80,000 fish, crippling fisheries and severely compromising sustenance fishing.

Members and leaders of the Hoopa Valley, Karuk and Yurok tribes have confronted U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell about the decision not to release water from the Trinity River into the Klamath. They have also protested outside state government buildings in Sacramento.

RELATED: Tribal Officials Urge Water Release Into Klamath River to Prevent Mass Fish Kill

“The Klamath River is on the brink of another massive fish kill,” claim the makers of this video.

The river smells terrible, one girl describes, and the salmon, while alive, had gills that “looked weird to me,” she said. “It made me angry and broke my heart, seeing that happening.”

The river looks sad and sick, said a Yurok man, recalling when it used to be a glorious emerald green, when he was a child. Now it’s green, alright—neon toxic green with things floating in it.

“It’s pretty sad,” he said.

Much of the video is devoted to recounting what transpired during the 2002 fish kill, then drawing parallels between the conditions then and now. Is the Klamath River on the brink of another fish kill? Wathc Yurok youth investigate, below.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/08/20/video-klamath-fish-kill-redux-teens-tell-grown-ups-put-more-water-river-156507

The Idle No More Video You Missed: Native Kids Drumming and Smudging


Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

Nearly a year ago, the Indigenous Action Movement coordinated a protest at the Peace Arch on the U.S.-Canada border. “It’s a peaceful, prayerful action … a ceremony with smudging, drumming and singing,” Kat Norris, spokesperson for the group, told ICTMN. “Every time we have to cross a border, it hits our hearts. It only reminds us of what we once had.” The gathering was focused on Indigenous women, but had a strong youth element to it. Video director Dave Wilson set out to capture the spirit of Idle No More’s future: Young people from both countries united by a cultural pride, and a willingness to question the status quo.


Entitled “Idle No More: The Next Generation,” the video was produced by Natives Brodie Lane Stevens (Tulalip) and ICTMN contributor Gyasi Ross (Blackfeet), and uses the song “Letter to My Countrymen” by the Minneapolis-based rapper Brother Ali, who has collaborated with Wilson in the past. The clip was posted to the RockPaper Jet YouTube page on January 9,

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/12/18/idle-no-more-video-you-missed-native-kids-drumming-and-smudging-152775

‘Alive’ Director: Blackfeet Thought Rez Drug Abuse Story ‘Needed to Be Told”

By Vincent Schilling, Indian Country Today Media Network

The music video for Chase & Status’ dance track “Alive,” directed by Welsh filmmaker Josh Cole, has inspired a tremendous reaction from Indian country. Just read through the comments on the ICTMN facebook page and you’ll get the picture — some viewers have praised the clip for its tale of drug abuse on the rez and spiritual redemption, while others feel it’s exploitative and disrespectful of the ceremonies it depicts.  The video, which shows dramatized drug use, crime and ceremony, was shot on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Cole has received considerable attention in Indian Country.

SEE RELATED: Controversial Video Set on Rez Depicts Drug Use, Violence and Sundance

Cole filmed the video on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana, and worked with Blackfeet tribal members during the course of its creation. On the day of the video release, ICTMN reached out to Cole to get his thoughts on some of the questions and comments coming from the Native community on social media.

Concerned he might be misrepresented, Cole requested that ICTMN could present his words in their entirety. He provided links to some other videos he has made which we have chosen to embed in the text of the story. Cole’s answers to our questions are as follows:

How did you first come up with this concept of using a Native Reservation story for this video?

As a reformed drug addict I follow stories around the world where the worst drug abuse is common. It’s my mission with my career to try to steer people into recovery as a thanks to those that helped me with my own addiction. As such I was shooting a story about a reformed Hispanic gangster turned graffiti artist in LA and I met a Native American rapper who grew up on a reservation.

I was shocked to hear stories about the reservations — in Europe there is no concept generally about contemporary Native Americans. I then started researching and put together a story based on the stuff I was told about. I decided I would really like to tell Europe how difficult it is for Native Americans in modern America because most people have no idea who they are. All my work is about the beauty that comes from hardship and I wanted to tell the story of the spiritual awakening of a drug addict in a Native American community.

How did you explain this concept to the Blackfeet community?

Several members of The Crazy Dogs Society in Browning are reformed alcoholics, I showed them my script and they really connected to it. They explained that it was basically their own story and also that they regularly help those with addictions through ceremony. I told them that I would like to make it something they would be proud of, that told the story properly, so we had a few days discussing my script and changing it to make it more realistic.

During this time I met several community leaders including many people on the Tribal Council including the Cultural Attaché of the Blackfeet Nation. Every time we met anyone we explained what we wanted to do in great detail and then each person was emailed a copy of the script. We explained the story dozens of times and the Tribal Council gave us their blessing and also gave us a shooting permit to shoot anywhere in Blackfeet territory. The community basically backed the project and we were repeatedly told by various people how much they thought this story needed to be told. I feel I could return there any time with my head held high. I’m also told the film has been very well received by people living not only on the Blackfeet Reservation but also on other reservations. You can see this by reading the comments under the video on Youtube. I should also say that this was a very low budget production — we were all working 20+ hour days to make it work and everybody involved really believed in the project. It still moves me when I think how much the people of Browning came together to help with this production.

What were the reactions about filming a “ceremony?”

I was extremely sensitive when talking to the Crazy Dogs about the ceremonies and always said that we could shoot an alternative scene. They spent a day or so discussing it with all members and they decided collectively they wanted the scene to be in the film. They felt like they wanted it to be shown and I gave them many opportunities to make sure they were happy. It meant a lot to me that they wanted to show this to the world. They told me that they wanted to use the video to help to heal the youth of the Blackfeet Nation. I should also say we didn’t film an actual ceremony — both the sweat lodge scene and the Sundance scene were mock ceremonies set up by the Crazy Dogs themselves to their exact specifications. I had no control whatsoever over the look or sequence of the scene, nor did I want it. I also had no interest in filming an actual ceremony — at every step of the process I was led by the advice of the Crazy Dogs and I am ever grateful for that and I feel no guilt in portraying this as I was led by a much greater knowledge than my own as I am with most of my work.

What were the reactions about this young man turning toward good then becoming a “martyr” as you put it?

I felt that the film needed an emotional finish. When people are moved they remember what they have seen. Plus it actually is somewhat of a happy ending because he is reunited with his girlfriend in the afterlife. There’s also a message in there about the way your past follows you — that no matter how much you reform you can’t always avoid who you were before. I have lost many many friends to the illness of addiction and this is often my experience.

What is the song about without the benefit of a video connected to it? 

It’s a gospel track I’m told. You’d have to ask the artist but I interpreted them as lyrics about recovery. Check them out here: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/chasestatus/alive.html

What was the message you hoped to share?

It’s a very simple message about the dangers of drugs. I nearly died myself through drug abuse and most of my narrative work contains these themes. It’s also a call to addicts to reform before it’s too late and to lead a more spiritual life.

Many native people are concerned about using Native Americans in a romantic way as a form of poverty porn or sensationalism, what is your response?

I strive against this type of imagery myself and I don’t think my work inspires pity at all. Everywhere I shoot I work very closely with the actual community to tell their story in the most authentic and meaningful way possible. Everywhere I’ve ever shot I can go back to and work again. I’m about to return to Ethiopia in January to work with the same community I shot with 2 years ago to produce a similar piece highlighting the plight of prostitutes in the capital and the beauty of the Rastafarian religion there. My extensive work in Africa generally shows very positive images and the energy of the slums:

The same with my film in the Philippines which shows positivity despite hardship- the true spirit of the country:

My work with the gypsy communities in the UK and Eastern Europe spans 10 years and tries to offer more positive images of this misunderstood people:


I also believe that my portrayal of Browning is not negative. It is ultimately a story of redemption and shows the elders of the community coming around the boy to heal him. If you don’t show the darkness in a realistic way the young people I’m trying to reach will not take it seriously. However, there is an element of drama to all my work as I want all my work to reach the masses – but it is always subverted as I believe I have done here. You have to remember that in the States the concept of Native Americans living in severe poverty is old news but in Europe people have no idea. None! I think this is something people here should know about.  So this video serves a dual purpose – to show Europeans some of the conditions on reservations and also to give a Native community an opportunity to show both its darkness and its beauty.

There were social media interactions between yourself and others regarding the cavalry – what happened there?

I had been staying in Browning for a week or so meeting members of the community and my crew who are mainly from Wales arrived to shoot. I posted a picture on Instagram and stupidly wrote “The Welsh Cavalry arrive in Montana” which is a common phrase in the UK similar to “reinforcements have arrived”. When I was attacked on twitter by a number of activists somebody found the tweet and tried to spread the word that I was being racist. A shame really but I understand — in hindsight I should have realized the implications of using the word “cavalry” but it certainly wasn’t meant in a negative or humorous way at all.

Any last remarks?

Just want to thank again the Blackfeet Nation and the Crazy Dogs Society for all the love we were shown.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/12/09/director-josh-cole-blackfeet-thought-story-needed-be-told-152631
Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/12/09/director-josh-cole-blackfeet-thought-story-needed-be-told-152631


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/12/09/director-josh-cole-blackfeet-thought-story-needed-be-told-152631

Controversial Video Set on Rez Depicts Drug Use, Violence and Sundance

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

A music video (below) for the tune “Alive,” by UK drum-n-bass artists Chase & Status and directed by Josh Cole is attracting attention in Indian country for its subject matter. The clip depicts young Natives living on a reservation who struggle with crack addiction and commit crimes to fund their habits. After an epiphany, the young man who is the main character of the video is seen in a sweat lodge and participating in a sundance ceremony.

Now, Cole is under fire from critics on Twitter who feel that the video exploits the usual media narrative about reservation life (“poverty porn,” as it’s sometimes been called) or cheapens the sundance ceremony by depicting it. Cole argues that the video was made with the consent and help of Blackfeet Natives on the rez in Browning, Montana, where it was filmed.

The video’s YouTube page includes a note expressing “thanks to the whole Blackfoot Nation and The Crazy Dogs Society for making us feel at home” as well as credits for the cast, which appears to consist largely (if not fully) of Native actors.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/12/05/controversial-video-set-rez-depicts-drug-use-violence-and-sundance-152586

Video: Going Home, Return of the Chinook

From John Gussman, Vimeo

Going Home from John Gussman on Vimeo.

With the lower Elwha Dam gone, and the Glines Canyon Dam scheduled to be gone in early 2014, the chinook salmon are coming back to their ancestral spawning grounds unreachable for the last 100 years. I spent a week in early September filming them in the Elwha River and one of it’s tributaries, Indian Creek. These are a few of the outtakes from that shoot, some of the final footage will be used in the film “Return of the River”, Learn more at elwhafilm.com/

What’s in crude oil — and how do we use it?

By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, Grist

The petroleum we pump out of the ground turns into a range of useful things: fuel for all forms of transportation, a key ingredient in plastics, and more. Alexis MadrigalThe Atlantic’s senior technology editor, takes a look at the chemistry of crude oil in the two-minute video above, explaining the process of distilling one barrel, gallon by gallon. Animated by Lindsey Testolin, this clip is part of a six-part video series in The User’s Guide to Energy special report. If this short overview leaves you wanting to know more, check out Kyle Thetford’s more detailed look at the process.



This story first appeared on The Atlantic as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The Atlantic.

Salmon Porn: Watch Mighty Fish Spawn on Live-Feed Underwater Camera

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

The U.S. Forest Service is providing a live view of sockeye salmon returning to spawn in Steep Creek, Juneau, Alaska. This live, underwater view is near the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska.

“Cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden (similar to Bull trout) are also in the creek. Dolly Varden consume any eggs that don’t make it into the redd,” the forest service says in the commentary. “You can also see Coho salmon fry from time to time.”

The fish cam is planted in about 18 inches of water by staff at Tongass National Forest.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/07/24/watch-secret-lives-salmon-unfold-alaska-underwater-camera-150554

Paul Simon’s ‘Sound of Silence’ Backs Anti-Tanker Cautionary Video on Anniversary of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

“Don’t be silent. Vote for an oil-free coast.”

That’s the kicker of this two-minute commercial that began airing on the March 24th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which happened off Alaska in 1989. Released by Coastal First Nations, an alliance of aboriginals along British Columbia’s north and central coasts as well as Haida Gwaii, the two-minute video is backed by the song of legendary musician Paul Simon, ‘Sound of Silence.’

“It’s an honor to use Paul Simon’s famous song, ‘The Sound of Silence,’ to help remind British Columbians of the danger of oil tankers,” said Art Sterritt, the group’s executive director, in a statement. “An oil spill is the sound of silence. It silences communities, it silences cultures and it silences wildlife. That’s what we’ll have in B.C. if Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline project is approved: A silent coast.”

The spot is airing on British Columbia television stations as well as social media, Coastal First Nations said in the statement. Simon granted use of his classic hit song for a “small honorarium,” the group said.

Among the First Nations in the group are Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nuxalk Nation, Gitga’at,  Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation, the group said on its website.

“We thought it was appropriate to release the commercial on the 24th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska,” said Sterritt in the group’s statement. “The Coastal First Nations have banned oil tankers from our traditional territories in the Great Bear Rainforest, and we have invested more than $300 million dollars over the past decade to establish a sustainable economy on the coast.”

The song sounds all the more bleak when heard against the scenes of oil-soaked birds and marine life that flash by, footage from the Exxon Valdez spill. It is juxtaposed with the audio of Captain Joseph Hazelwood, the commander of the vessel of the time, notifiying his superiors that “we are leaking some oil.”

“A lot of people don’t realize that taxpayers will be left paying upwards of $21.4 billion dollars if there’s a spill,” Sterritt said. “Each tanker is owned and operated by a small holding company to limit financial liability. Taxpayers are left holding the bag, and our communities are left with a permanently polluted environment.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/03/31/paul-simons-sound-silence-backs-anti-tanker-cautionary-video-anniversary-exxon-valdez-oil