Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Students and the Wishram community are presenting the play Wishram Discovers Lewis and Clark this Friday and Saturday in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition's arrival in Wishram.
The National Re-enactment Team is traveling down the Columbia in dug out canoes, and they will be paddling into Maryhill State Park in the late afternoon this Friday, Oct. 21. They will attend Wishram's play on Saturday and will give their own presentation after the play.
A true community effort, the cast of Wishram Discovers Lewis and Clark ranges in age from age five to 60. Students, school staff, and community members are portraying the villagers and members of the expedition. Max, a charming black Newfoundland, plays the part of Seaman, Lewis' dog. Other staff and community members cut the miles of fringe needed, sewed costumes, and created props.
The Wishram, Celilo, Horsethief area was quite the happening place in 1805, with about 5,000 people congregated here during the fishing season. It was a trade and cultural center, the place where east met west.
The play is based on the journals of Lewis & Clark, plus the journals of the five other expedition members who kept them. The Native American perspective is also represented in the play.
Sahaptin, the Native American language of the Wishram Villagers, is still spoken and the actors speak their first line in both Sahaptin and English. Language instruction was provided by Suzie Slockish, while Wilbur Slockish provided perspective and suggestions. He is also the narrator for a scene telling the story of the battle between the cold east wind, and the salmon- bringing west wind.
Salmon play an important role in the play, as the source of the wealth and trading power of the Celilo area Native Americans and as a part of the culture. Lewis and Clark were puzzled by why the Salmon suddenly died, so many all at one, while the river Indians understood the Salmon cycle. Lewis and Clark did bring wonderful new tools and weapons, including an air gun that would shoot many times without reloading.
The Nez Perce guides report death threats. Are natives really planning to kill Lewis and Clark? Will the Corps of Discovery escape the marauding skunks unscathed and unscented?
The answers can be found Friday and Saturday nights, 7 p.m. at Wishram School.