Hanford Nuclear Site: Through a Native Poet’s Eyes

Poem encapsulates the story of Indigenous people along the Columbia River after the introduction of the dams and the Hanford Nuclear Site

People still remember a time before the dams and the Hanford Nuclear Site (Hanford) irreparably changed the Columbia River. Before the federal government closed off sacred ancestral homeland in the pursuit of military superiority, the results of which left a wake of nuclear devastation encircling the plant. A time before fear of toxic and nuclear pollution permeated minds and leached into the River.

As a living history, these stories pass down through families as people adapt to the changing circumstances and environments around them. Today, this history is added to as Indigenous peoples along the Columbia River continue to lend their voices to the symphony and tell the stories of Native people along the Columbia after the introduction of hydropower and Hanford. One such person is Tyrone Ross Thompson, a Wyampum Nez Perce poet whose words remind us that Indigenous peoples’ stories are continuous and resilient. 

"Gift With Meaning" by Tyrone Ross Thompson, Wyampum Nez Perce