For thousands of years, the Spokane River was the lifeblood of the Spokane Tribe. When Grand Coulee Dam was completed in 1942, Lake Roosevelt was created, raising the waters of the Columbia and Spokane Rivers some 70 feet. Traditional fishing sites, burial grounds, and sacred cultural gathering places lay beneath Lake Roosevelt.
There were no options for the people of the Spokane Tribe and no options for the salmon, which were blocked by the dam. The federal government is required to maintain a trust responsibility with tribes. Tribal leaders were told they’d receive reasonable compensation for their losses. The Tribe was paid just $4,700.
For nearly 70 years, the Spokane Tribe of Indians has been negotiating with the federal government over the tribes’ losses due to Grand Coulee Dam.