By Joanna Bastian
Standing on the banks of the Methow/Columbia confluence, it is a stretch to remember what the surrounding area looked like 50 years ago before the dam created the lake, or even 100 years ago, when young men and women with ambitious dreams arrived by ferry, carriage, horseback and foot to the mouth of the Methow River.
In Pateros Memorial Park, there are few reminders: a heavy bolt used to secure ferries as crews pulled the boats up river against the current and through the rapids, a museum with pictures of first homes, first orchards, first town buildings, first miners. What is missing is a way to envision how the first people in the region lived thousands of years before the new comers arrived.
With that thought, I am very excited to share with you a project I’ve been involved in for the last few months: a Monument to the Methow.
With input from the Colville Confederated Tribal History/Archeology program, a team of collaborators is putting the finishing touches on the design of an educational park in Pateros. The team is comprised of local historians, an archaeologist, tribal elders and a Pateros City liaison.
The design of the Monument to the Methow is endorsed by Okanogan County Historical Society as the nonprofit sponsor, the Pateros City Council, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and Douglas County PUD.
Initially, our thoughts were to ask for a small bit of space along the shore to put up four historical signs similar to the other historical signs located in Pateros Memorial Park. As team members collaborated with the city of Pateros, a more integrated and practical design emerged for an educational park — centering around the annual salmon bake and cultural celebration that takes place in Pateros Memorial Park each year.
Currently, a pile of bricks serves as a makeshift salmon bake oven that is stored in an alleyway and hauled out to the street corner each year. The Monument to the Methow will have an elegantly permanent salmon bake wood-fired oven as the centerpiece to an educational park situated along the pedestrian river walk in the Pateros Memorial Park.
Surrounding the oven is a gravel walkway lined by native plants and scenes of a traditional encampment during the annual salmon harvest. Renowned Colville Tribal artist Virgil “Smoker” Marchand has agreed to create a number of sculptures, including one that was inspired by a 1930s photo of a Methow Indian gaffing salmon in the Methow River from horseback. Rock art tiles will be placed along the curbing surrounding the monument.
Five educational signs with historical photographs will tell the story of the Methows. Overlooking the Columbia River, the Monument to the Methow integrates the natural elements of water, stone and native plants. The inspirational space will be a beautiful addition to the Pateros Memorial Park and will be enjoyed by the community, park visitors, students, tourists and passersby along the shoreline sidewalk.
All we need now is your support to make the Monument to the Methow a reality. Our goal is to raise $25,000 to pay for the sculptures, signs, tepee, benches and landscaping. To date, we have raised more than half the funds needed, and just need a little more. The monument is planned to be completed by May 2017 and dedicated to the community. All work will be completed by paid contractors.
Donations are fully tax-deductible. Checks are payable to “Methow Monument/OCHS” and should be mailed to: Okanogan County Historical Society, P.O. Box 1129, Okanogan, WA 98840. Please help us make this Monument to the Methow a reality to be enjoyed by everyone in the community.