The Big River

by Aja DeCoteau, OEC board member

My people, the Yakama, called it N’ch i wana, “the big river.” The Columbia River has been the lifeblood of all the cultures it touches. The salmon that swim its waters have shaped the culture of the newcomers to this region just as they shaped tribal cultures before them. Salmon are the icon of this place.

My roots run deep in this region—for thousands of years of my ancestors fished in its waters, gathered in its meadows, hunted its forests. That connection is a big part of who I am today. I feel a responsibility to make sure the tribal land ethic and sense of place are represented in conversations about our shared environment. That duty led me into a field that aims to protect our rivers and our salmon, and it led me to become a member of the Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) and serve on its board. Will you join me in becoming a member of OEC today?

For tribal people, natural resources are synonymous with cultural resources. The tribes have been doing important work to protect our “First Foods”—water, deer, salmon, roots, and berries—and the environment upon which they depend. This work sustains not only tribal people and culture, but benefits all Oregonians. The environment connects us all. Environmental degradation, climate change, and polluted rivers are health risks for everyone—for salmon, for you, for me.

Tribal wisdom teaches that we should think of how our decisions will affect those seven generations in the future. That connection was made more tangible to me last year with the birth of my daughter, Isabella. Our actions today shape the land that our children, their children, and their children’s children will live in and hopefully enjoy.

Oregon Environmental Council is working to protect Oregon’s clean air and water for you and me, for Isabella, and for all the other children who will grow up in this beautiful state. I urge you to join OEC as a member today with your donation. They are a strong voice in what happens to Oregon’s environment, and part of that strength is their commitment to partnering and learning from the tribes and other underrepresented groups.

As Oregonians, we have common goals. Let’s work together to protect Oregon’s rivers, our children and our future. You can start by making a gift to OEC today.

Thank you,

Aja DeCoteau, OEC Board of Directors

Pink Donate Now Button-01-01

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Featured OEC History People Living Green Toxics-Free Environments Air Quality Eco-Healthy Homes Transportation Solutions Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Emerging Leaders Board Water News Water Conservation Rural Partnerships Agriculture Climate Protection OCAP-Page
Sort by

We’ve moved!

After 18 years of being in our downtown office space, we have moved east of the river into the East Bank Lofts! The move is bittersweet as we transition from a loved and familiar space to a new and exciting chapter in OEC history. We made so many beautiful memories in our old office space from strategizing new partnerships and alliances to celebrating our policy victories in
October 11, 2021, 8:03 pm


Summer isn’t the only time to worry about woodsmoke

As we roll into fall, many people start cleaning out their wood-burning stoves and fireplaces to start heating their homes, or just to get that cozy ambiance. What many people don’t realize is that, when a lot of people are burning wood in their homes, the cumulative effect on air quality can be similar to a wildfire. OEC has been advocating to reduce harmful air pollution from urban wood fires and to provide healthier options for those that rely on w
October 8, 2021, 10:34 am


ODOT Mega-projects in the Portland area

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has a mega-project wishlist. The top projects on this list are the Abernethy Bridge on I-205, and the Boone Bridge, the Rose Quarter, and the Columbia River Crossing on I-5.  These projects have been waiting for funding for years or even decades. A total price tag for Oregon of at least four billion dollars seems likely, and for that, we’ll receive a few short segments of highways with more la
October 5, 2021, 12:13 pm


Without TFKA expansions, OHA forced to choose 5 chemicals to regulate

There’s thousands of potentially harmful chemicals in products that are marketed to kids. As of now, OHA can regulate just a few of them. We need to change that.  In 2015, OEC’s advocacy lead to the passage of a groundbreaking law, the Toxics Free Kids Act (TFKA), which required manufacturers of children’s products sold i
September 30, 2021, 8:31 pm


Road-trips, Representatives and Adventures in Eastern Oregon

Summer is road-trip time, and recently, OEC staff Karen Lewotsky (Water Policy and Rural Partnerships Director) and Morgan Gratz-Weiser (Legislative Director) headed southeast across Oregon to Crane, with stops along the way in Tumalo and Prineville. Why Crane? The gathering in Crane was organized by leading legislators and partner organizations Verde, Willamette
September 10, 2021, 8:24 pm


New report elevates water justice in Oregon

A new report from the Oregon Water Futures Project reveals water challenges facing communities across the state, from water shortages, to living with unsafe water, watching sacred ecosystems disappear, and critical information gaps about clean water during emergencies. The report highlights key findings from community
September 2, 2021, 11:10 pm


Strengthening Oregon’s Climate Protection Program

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is getting closer to finalizing rules for a new Climate Protection Program. Over the past year, DEQ has made a number of positive changes to strengthen the rules; however, a few key policy design features still hang in the
August 31, 2021, 10:07 pm


Building Back Better with a Strong Reconciliation Package

OEC and nearly 50 other state-based partners call on congressional leaders to build back better through bold investments in climate, jobs, and justice. August 26, 2021  RE: Please help Oregon build back better by supporting an equitable economic recovery and health outcomes, family-sustaining jobs, and a transition to a clean energy economy. 
August 27, 2021, 5:40 pm


electric vehicle charging station

A Supercharged EV Road Trip

Ava During Covid, when schools shut down, my teenage daughter’s life was suddenly all online. So it didn’t surprise me when she started telling me about a new group of friends she met on an online forum dedicated to One Direction, an English-Irish pop boy band. Aware of the dangers of the internet, I
August 26, 2021, 7:37 pm


No Replies to "The Big River"