Think, Pair, Share: Review students’ posts in online discussion from ch. 1–2.
Have students discuss in Think, Pair, Share structure or another method for building confidence in responses before attempting whole-class discussion.
Historical context: (Commentary by Robin Cody)
On Celilo (se-LYE-lo) Falls
Wade tells Lorna he was only ten or eleven when he saw Celilo Falls. He then goes on to explain how they looked and sounded and smelled. In real life I was twelve or thirteen when I saw the big falls, and the scene still plays in my head like a 3-D movie with surround-sound and smell, just the way Wade tells it. All true. Not a bit like what you see today at Multnomah Falls or Bridal Veil Falls, Celilo is where the whole Columbia River came thundering through swift narrow channels in its broken riverbed. The year 1957 is when a new dam—just upstream from The Dalles—closed its floodgates. Up rose the water behind the dam, drowning Celilo village and silencing those roaring falls.
Wade was amazed at the dip-net fishing. He’s a good reporter, but he had no way of knowing what the loss of the falls would mean to the native tribes. Celilo Falls, along with Kettle Falls much farther up the river, was a center of far-west civilization for ten thousand years, or for as long as humans have fished the big river. Native people came from all over to greet spring and fall runs of Pacific salmon, watery tribes who had to pause in their upstream migration before leaping (or failing to leap) the falls. The first salmon to arrive each season was greeted with respect and ceremony, as Jesse says later in Ricochet River. From the east to Celilo Falls came people hoping to trade buffalo hides for cedar baskets or whatever else the coastal Natives might bring. Elders swapped stories. At games and dances, young people from different bands could check each other out. While salmon meant food and worship, this frequent regathering of thousands of people also made for an all-time great Cascadian marketplace, dating site, arts exhibit, and entertainment center.
The loss of the Celilo and Kettle Falls came suddenly and without a fight, as if today a massive tsunami wiped out Portland and Seattle.
It is said among the tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation that after the water rose at Celilo the people who’d lived there could not sleep at night for lack of sound.
See more, including vintage video, at Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.
What themes do you notice with respect to dams and fish? The dam at Calamus, like the dam that drowned Celilo Falls, had a big effect on ocean-going salmon (See Note B for background on the life cycle of Pacific salmon and steelhead).
- How do you see these aspects influencing the rest of the novel? Brainstorm a list.
Note Jesse’s blind spot about consequences. He’s surprised, after hitting golf balls across the river, that the golf balls are gone. What effect do you think this characteristic will have on Jesse’s character arc? Can you make some assumptions about where his narrative will lead?
Ricochet River is called by some a book about place, about how a place—its rivers, its woods, its natural setting—shapes its people. Jesse has big money coming because he’s been dis-placed. The government paid native people for lost lands and fishing sites, including Celilo Falls. That part of Ricochet River is true to real life. Money for your place.
- How good a deal is that for Jesse?
- How great would it be for you?
- Who in the current global community is being displaced? What are some similarities and differences between their situation and Jesse’s?
W.9–10.1, 2, 4, 6–10; RL.9–10.1-10; SL.9–10.5; L.9–10.1