Hundreds Attend Prayer Gathering At Falls

Hundreds of people gathered at Snoqualmie Falls last Saturday to celebrate its spiritual significance,

and to pledge support for Native Americans in their

struggle to protect religious sites.

The crowd included representatives from many

different Native American tribes, as well as leaders from

a variety of ecumenical churches. The event featured

a traditional drumming group, Indian story-telling for

the children, blessings from leaders of the Shaker

Church and Baha'i Faith and even a group singing of

"Amazing Grace."

"How often has the sight of these falls lifted

your spirits, just as the mist rises here?" asked Bishop

Calvin McConnell of the United Methodist Church. "We

thank you, Snoqualmie People, for sharing this sacred

place with us."

Reading from a statement signed by 10 bishops, McConnell added, "We stand in solidarity with

the Snoqualmie People in the efforts to preserve Snoqualmie Falls as a place for spiritual renewal for

all people in the generations to come."

One change that may come to the falls is part of

a proposed upgrade by Puget Power, which will apply

to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

for relicensing at the end of 1993.

The utility's plan calls for two feet to be

knocked from the top of the dam and the installation of an

inflatable weir. The application also includes expanded

educational and recreational facilities.

"Proposed changes will enhance access by people

of all backgrounds, including the handicapped, but the

character of the falls will not be visibly changed from

the past," according to a written statement distributed

by Puget Power.

Project Manager Virginia Pistorese added that the

utility has included the Snoqualmie in its licensing

discussions. "People need energy," she said. "And I feel

we're making the best effort to balance our resources."

But Kathy Barker, a member of the Snoqualmie

Tribe, disagrees. "I want to see this spot preserved not just

for the Snoqualmie, but for all tribes that use this area,"

she said. "Our way shouldn't be treated any differently

from the modern religions."

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