“The Place of Falling Waters” Screening at Yale of Documentary and Panel with Filmmaker

Kerr dam

Yale University Screening of The Place of Falling Waters (1991) and Discussion Panel with Filmmaker Thompson Smith and guests Rose Bear Don’t Walk and Vance Homegun
Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee
Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes

Wednesday, March 30th | 5:30PM
Native American Culture Center at Yale University | 26 High Street

The Place of the Falling Waters, a Native Voices documentary about the Salish and Kootenia tribal histories and the building of the Kerr hydropower dam on Montana’s Flathead Lake, will be featured today at Yale University with a panel discussion after the showing with the filmmaker Thompson Smith and Salish and Kootenai community representatives. Falling Waters was produced by Daniel Hart, University of Washington professor of American Indian Studies and Luana Ross, University of Washington associate professor of Women Studies. The Kerr Dam is now officially called Seli’š Ksanka Qlispe’.

Plasi Cocowee, a member of the Salish Tribe, works on Kerr Dam at the height of its construction in 1937.
Plasi Cocowee, a member of the Salish Tribe, works on Kerr Dam at the height of its construction in 1937.

The film, produced through Salish Kootenai College and the Native Voices Public Television workshop, remains perhaps the only documentary of its kind: a native community’s own examination of a major current issue, framed around an in-depth tracing of the cultural, political, and environmental history behind it.

With the interviews supplemented by rare historic footage and photographs, the film follows the elders’ lead in telling this as a story of transformation and resistance—of cultural survival, and the continued hope of cultural revival.

Falling Waters is centered on the recovery of missing voices in both the telling of the past, and in envisioning the future. Every aspect of the film is deeply rooted in the community itself. The main sources are tribal elders, many interviewed in the Salish or Kootenai languages. The soundtrack draws primarily from the filmmakers’ recordings of the traditional songs of the Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai people. The narrator is the film’s videographer, tribal member Roy Bigcrane. The filmmaker, Thompson Smith, will be present for the panel discussion after each segment of the film, along with Rose Bear Don’t Walk and Vance Homegun.

Learn more about the film, Seli’š Ksanka Qlispe’ (Kerr Dam), and Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai peoples’ efforts to care for the waters at “Revisiting the Place of Falling Waters.”. When the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and their Energy Keepers, Inc. celebrated their acquisition of the dam on September 5, 2015, the Tribal Council announced that the dam’s name would henceforth be changed to Seli’š Ksanka Qlispe’.

About the author: Farina King

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