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Dorman: Among the cedar and salmon, return the power to Snoqualmie Falls

Today your child is born. Today you marry. Today you want to celebrate. Today your family is remembering a loved one passed on to the other side. Today you don't know where to turn or which end is up anymore. Today you feel your journey has almost reached its end. Today you seek some solace, but not at the bottom of a bottle like so many other todays. Today your spirit is uplifted and full and you walk away ready to face another "today." Today you welcome love in your heart again. Today is a good day.

Many todays have come and gone at the place of creation here in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Today Snoqualmie Falls, with its gift of powerful water that brings life for the sacred Cedar and Salmon, still greets visitors from all over the world. They come for renewal, for healing and for strength.

Brought up to respect all life around us as sacred, the desecration that is ravaging our sacred places is unthinkable to those who hold to the ancient teachings. Sacred places that were once revered are threatened all across our beloved land. And so it is at Snoqualmie Falls.

It is there that Moon, the Transformer, the Changer created the first man and the first woman and then climbed back into the sky to his star father's people. He can still be seen where his Snoqualmie mother poked a hole through the sky with her digging stick. He provides light in the darkness, light for the Valley of the Moon and its people.

The spirit of these sacred places is calling to those who serve as stewards. Many elders and spiritual teachers in Indian country are giving voice to this spirit, bringing forth an urgent message - we must reclaim, restore, protect and celebrate our sacred places now, for our very survival and the survival of all.

We Snoqualmie people have been working to decommission a 100-year-old hydroelectric facility that produces very little electricity (less than 1 percent of what the utility sells) yet results in unspeakable desecration of the place of creation for our Puget Sound Natives. The facility diverts much of the water through pipes and turbines, leaving the Falls physically a diminished shadow of its true nature. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Project 2493 operates under an annual license while it is awaiting the decision of its application for a 30 to 50 year license. The tribe opposes its relic ensure.

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The solution lies in righting the wrong and returning this site to the Snoqualmie tribe, and releasing the Falls to its full and natural flow. The tribe works toward a co-managed spiritual sanctuary that will be open "For All People, For All Time" in keeping with the history of this place of gathering. We work to restore the natural water flow over our sacred Falls and thereby strengthen that sacred connection between this world and the next with reinvigorated, sustained, and uplifting mists to the sky above.

In spirit, we are all a part of each other. Our interconnectedness demands that we learn to work together, find a solution together, and strengthen each other. Our sacred places, gifts of the Creator, are our great teachers.

Be still. Listen. Learn. The animals will teach you. The rocks will comfort you. The mountains will teach you many songs. The water will heal you. The mists will carry your prayers to the heavens. Learn. Become stronger. Help one another.

People need sacred places to remember that they too are connected to all things and belong. In this place that has welcomed people for thousands of years, they will go away strengthened, and in turn they will share that Spirit of the Falls with others.

Watch over yourselves well.

Lois Sweet Dorman is acting chair of the Snoqualmie Falls Preservation Project, Snoqualmie Tribe of Washington state.