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The Heart of a River

Heritage Group Distribution

This is a book for anyone, of any age, who cares about rivers.

This story of the Columbia River is unique. Told from the river’s perspective, it is an immersive, empathetic portrait of a once-wild river and of the Sinixt, a First People who lived on the mainstem of this great western river for thousands of years and continue to do so even though Canada declared them “extinct” in 1956.

The book’s re-release comes at a critical time for natural systems and for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples across North America. The Colville Confederated Tribes, representing over 3,000 Sinixt People, recently won a precedent-setting case in the Supreme Court of Canada affirming that Aboriginal Rights do not stop at the border. The important story of the Sinixt weaves together with the ongoing ecological impact of hydropower development on the Columbia and its tributaries.

Central to the story is the joyous spirit of salmon, once a free swimmer in the Columbia’s currents north of the border but now blocked from ancestral spawning grounds by Grand Coulee and other dams. Restoring migratory fish indigenous to the Upper Columbia will require transboundary cooperation. With Indigenous Nations on both sides of the US–Canada border now leading the way, many are hopeful that the fish will return.

Lavishly illustrated by Nelson, BC, designer Nichola Lytle, this portrait of a globally significant river will inspire anyone who reads it to care about the future of the salmon, a fish that unites all of us in its quest for freedom and possibility.

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