Community invited to free screening of Nez Perce documentary


PENDLETON, Ore. — Community members are invited to a free screening of Covenant of the Salmon People on Friday, Sept. 8 at Wildhorse Resort & Casino. The documentary film collaboration between the Nez Perce Tribe (Nimiipuu) and Swift Water Films tells the story of the Tribe’s connection to salmon and expands upon the Nimiipuu creation story, where in the time before humans, animals spoke and the salmon was the first to offer themselves as nourishment for the people. In return, the people would always protect and speak on behalf of the salmon. This was the covenant.

“Genetically salmon has imprinted on our DNA,” Nakia Williamson, Nez Perce Tribal Cultural Resources Director, said in release about the film. “Now we are only left with a handful of places that have the numbers of salmon that we can actually fish and continue that way of life.”

Today, the Nimiipuu are fighting to protect and restore several species of salmon that are near extinction, and continuing to carry out their promise to protect the salmon – the first food their people have subsisted on for tens of thousands of years.

“This film will cover the perspectives of all our people, not just us as policy makers and staff, but also our tribal elders, men, women and children. After all, this is a fight for the Nez Perce Tribe and each individual tribal member who is at risk of losing a part of their culture, and a part of their identity,” Samuel Penney, Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee Chairman, said.

The Nimiipuu have invested decades into recovery efforts, but the widespread construction of dams across their traditional lands has presented multiple challenges to recovery. From the beginning, the tribe contested the construction of the dams and today, miniscule percentages of salmon manage to pass the eight dams between them and their natural spawning grounds.

“I have to say, when is enough, enough? We have turned as many dials for salmon recovery as we are capable of doing,” Shannon Wheeler, Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee Vice-Chairman, said. “Our back is against the wall… Now, more than ever, our voice needs to be amplified for salmon and for the rest of the environment. We will never forget our covenant with the salmon.”

Guests have a choice of two screenings Sept. 8, 11:30 a.m. or 5:00 p.m., but must register in advance to attend. To register for the first show, visit For the 5:00 p.m. show, register at

Wildhorse Resort and Casino is located at 46510 Wildhorse Blvd., Pendleton. The theater is located near the bowling alley on the south end of the property.

For more opportunities and locations to watch, visit