Forty miles south of the Canadian border, Kettle Falls (Shonitkwu in Salish, meaning “noisy waters”) names a place that no longer exists. For 9,000 years, Native peoples met here to fish and trade. They caught an estimated million pounds of salmon per year, which supplied half the tribe’s nutrition.
In 1941, their way of life ended forever with the opening of the Grand Coulee Dam (see p. 143). At 550 feet, the dam was too high for fish ladders, and the salmon harvest, already diminished, disappeared completely from the upper Columbia. Today, the quartzite ledges over which the falls roared are buried deep beneath Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake. In our repeat, taken below the pillars of Highway 395, the lake’s wind-rippled surface gives no hint of what was lost. The noisy waters are mute. —JS