Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fishhook Jim and Fishhook Park

Fishhook Park is Army Corp of Engineer Park on the shores of impounded Snake River above Ice Harbor Dam. The park has camp sites, picnic areas, swimming areas and boating facilities associated with recreating on the lower Snake River. During a past era, I spent a fair bit on the lower Snake. In the summer the water is a lot warmer than the frigid Columbia.

The name Fishhook is derived from a rapids that was formerly located on this reach of the Snake River. But it also derived from a former resident, Fishhook Jim. I suspect his name was derived from the place.

Fishhook Jim was a Palouse Indian. The Palouse had releations and intermingled with many of the other tribes of the inland Pacific Northwest. The Palouse did not have a designated reservation in the Walla Walla Treaty of 1855. While some Palouse went to live on the Yakima, Nez Perce and Colville Reservations, many Palouse simply stayed put and continued to live along the Snake River with seasonal trips to other food source sites. Fishhook Jim was the descendent of Palouse Induians that stayed. Eventually nearly all the Palouse were forced to leave. A few managed to obtain homestead claims - a hard task for Indians that took the American path of land ownership. Frequently Indians were not allowed to claim land even if they opted not to go to the reservation. But for the few that did manage to stay, another blow came with the building of the dams on the lower Snake. The rapids at Fish Hook disappeared under the water as well as the ancestral village and gathering sites. It should be further added that several salmon species on the lower Snake were also finished off by the dams.

Fishhook Park is a reminder of a past time and a gesture by the dam builders to remember what was once there as well as the people that once lived for thousands of years on the lower Snake.

William Clark described the Corps of Discovery trip through Fish Hook Rapids:

"... A cool morning, deturmined to run the rapids ... [Clark, October 16, 1805]
Having examined the rapids], which we found more difficult than the report of the Indians had induced us to believe, we set out early, and putting our Indian guide in front, our smallest canoe next, and the rest in succession, began the descent: the passage proved to be very disagreeable; as there is a continuation of shoals extending from bank to bank for the distance of three miles, during which the channel is narrow and crooked, and obstructed by large rocks in every direction, so as to require great dexterity to avoid being dashed on them. We got through the rapids with no injury to any of the boats except the hindmost, which ran on a rock; but by the assistance of the other boats, and of the Indians who were very alert, she escaped, though the baggage she contained was wet.

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