In regions afar from the Word’s place of birth,
some ten thousand years before the Word’s birth,
the Word in creation had forged different lands:
a sea far inland broke through its rock dam,
Lake Missoula went westward seeking out the Pacific
–shattered rock that seemed solid,
plowed canyons in Earth,
and gave the Willamette the richest of soil
– left beneath and behind it a world now transformed
–a world of new lakes and new rivers, pure waters
a watershed reaching from meadows,
a lifeblood of life-giving waters still bearing
in memory their turbulent flood time of birth;
among them a great river flowed, filled with salmon
a great singing river through Celilo splashed down
called first by first peoples, Che Wana, Great River,
and then called Columbia, the West’s mighty river.
–from Columbia River Pastoral Letter, 2001
On September 23, near the 50th anniversary of the implementation of an historic treaty between the United States and Canada regarding the management of the Columbia River, the Roman Catholic Bishops of Washington State joined other faith leaders and leaders of indigenous communities in asking U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to begin a process of modernizing the treaty.
While the treaty has no end date, changes can be implemented beginning in the year 2024, provided that 10 years' notice is given. Please see the attached letter to the president and prime minister, as well as a "Declaration on Ethics & Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty," which was developed out of a conference on the treaty held at Gonzaga University in Spokane on May 13, 2014. The Washington State Catholic Conference has received the attached response from Prime Minister Harper.
The possibility of amending the treaty provides an occasion for Catholics and others of good will to read and discuss again "The Columbia River Watershed: Caring for Creation and the Common Good," an international pastoral letter of the region's Roman Catholics bishops, published on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 8, 2001. The following links will be helpful: Pastoral Letter – English; Pastoral Letter – Spanish; Discussion Guide – English; Discussion Guide – Spanish. Finally, click here for the Pastoral Letter Companion Toutube Video.