Sound of a Drumbeat
A Native Americans plea for the salmon
"We grew up with salmon at our feasts. Its part of our
tradition, our culture." - Lilisa Moses, Nez Perce Native American
By RON SOBLE
Photo Caption: Lilisa Moses, Nez Perce Native American. Express photo by
Sound of a Drumbeat Coming up Through Water is her Native American name.
To the panel of federal officials she introduced herself as Lilisa Moses,
of the Nez Perce Nation at Lapwai, Idaho, a few miles north of Lewiston.
At last Wednesday nights hearing on salmon recovery in Twin Falls,
she told federal officials she drove seven hours to make a statement.
In all, she said, it was a 14-hour roundtrip so that she could verbalize
her deep concerns over potential extinction of salmon and its impact on her tribal
Breach the dams, she pleaded in a clear, steady voice.
Her statement was limited to three minutes.
Fourteen hours for three minutes of testimonywhy?
"Its something I believe in," the 20-year-old Native
American said later in an interview. "We grew up with salmon at our feasts. Its
part of our tradition, our culture."
She said she borrowed her mothers 1986 Oldsmobile and, with her
boyfriend, drove the distance, stopping in Boise the night before the hearing. She
wasnt nervous, she said, because it was her fifth three-minute distress call before
Her Northwest Odyssey on behalf of the salmon had taken her in recent
months to nearby Clarkston, Wash., then farther away to hearings in Boise, Seattle,
Missoula and, finally, Twin Falls.
A couple of times, two conservation groupsIdaho Rivers United and
Save Our Wild Salmonpicked up the tab, providing a bus or van, or paying for gas, a
room and food.
Tsotsyaala, her name in her native tongue, has five brothers and two
sisters, ranging in age from 14 to 34. She recalled fishing with her father, now deceased,
on the Columbia, the Middle Fork of the Salmon and other rivers, beginning at the age of
Of her three minutes before the panel, she said, "I hope it will make
a difference. I do believe they were listening to me."