Hi! Kaeley Pruitt-Hamm of KPH & The Canary Collective here.
I'm dressed up (sort of) like a certain snowy character from a certain cartoon movie about sisters attempting to heal wrongs of their Norse white ancestors and breaching a dam that is harming the balance of ecosystems for all. And I'm singing a certain song from that beloved children's cartoon movie.
Because we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity RIGHT NOW in REAL LIFE to take action to try and right wrongs of white colonizers on this planet and support Indigenous communities, salmon, orcas, and many more lives!
Not sure what I mean? Read this excellent article on why we should remove Snake River dams.
Members of the Lummi Nation have built a totem pole out of 400-year old red cedar wood and are launching a journey carrying it from Bellingham, WA across the country to gift it to President Biden, whose Infrastructure Plan might order that the Snake River dams be removed and the rivers be restored responsibly and safely...if they hear from enough people that this is the right thing to do. Congress and the White House need to hear from the people that we care about this issue and action needs to be taken NOW!
There is encouraging momentum in Congress - Republicans and Democrats are actually banding together to call for the dams to be removed. Some members of Congress, like Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rogers, who represents my hometown district in Eastern Washington state - are sticking up for the wealthy few CEOs who have interests in the dams staying put, and they need to hear from us too.
As we see in this hopeful, beautiful documentary "Return of the River" about the successful campaign to remove the dam and restore the Elwa River, it's possible to change decision-makers' minds and change the course of human and planetary history. In the case of the Elwa River dam, Indigenous and local ally activists and scientists changed the dam removal decision-making committee members' minds from being unanimously against removing the dams to being unanimously in favor of it. And the progress and healing they saw for the salmon in even a year post-dam removal surpassed anyone's hopes.
We are canaries - humans and animals who are feeling the effects of ecosystem imbalances in our bodies and our lives the most, and who are thus feeling the urgency of the need to take action.
So let's flood DC's voicemails and social media inboxes with our voices and instruments in a Canary Choir and Orca-stra!
Here's what you can do:
Submit a video, selfie, and/or letter and join the Canary Choir and Orca-stra!
Due by July 16th 2021
1) Kids of all ages (ages 1 to 101), feel free to dress up in Frozen-themed costumes if you want! We also need dogs and all kinds of pets to get involved so feel free to recruit a pet or two as well. Be creative and don't worry about perfection. We just want the policy-makers in DC to see that you care about this and see that people from all around the country are wanting them to take action to do the right thing!
2) Make a sign that says "Breach Snake River Dams!" Make it artistic if you can, adding drawings of orca whales, salmon, and rivers.
3) Ask someone to take a picture of you holding the sign you've made. You'll use the sign for the next part if you're participating in the song video. Write on the back of it a hand-written letter and mail it to Gov. Inslee or Senator Patty Murray if you're a Washington state resident and to Pres. Joe Biden if you're not from WA. Scroll past these addresses for instructions on the video!
Wondering what to say in the letter?
Here are some Sample Letter Scripts
📱 : (360) 902-4111
✉️: 416 14th Avenue SW
📱 : (425) 259-6515
✉️: 2988 Jackson Federal Building, 915 2nd Ave.
📱 : (202) 224-3441
✉️: 915 Second Ave., Suite 3206, Seattle, Washington
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
If you'd like to write a couple letters with art on them, you can also mail Rep. Mike Simpson, a Republican Idaho rep who loves salmon and is trying to reach across the aisle to breach these dams. He could use a few letters that say "thank you for sticking your neck out and taking a political risk for something that matters to all of us!"
Rep. Mike Simpson
650 Addison Avenue West #1078
Twin Falls, ID 83301
4) Grab 2 devices. On a laptop or computer, wear headphones and pull up this video of me singing the 30-second song. Make sure you can see the lyrics. If you want to print out the lyrics and have someone hold the lyrics for you while you're taking the video singing, playing, or dancing, you can print out the lyrics. Get someone to take a video of you on a separate device, like a phone. Or take a selfie video. Make sure it's taking the video the "horizontal" way, not the vertical way on a phone.
5) Hit "record" on the camera so it's taking a video of you. Press "Play" on the video of me singing at the same time, and sing along with me! If you don't feel like singing, just dancing along while holding your sign is great too - or both! If you're sick, disabled, or stuck in bed, just taking a photo or video from bed is great too. If you play an instrument, from flute to drums to piano to violin to kazoo - great! We need an "orca-stra" of instruments too! Hard of hearing or deaf? Show sign language and dance if you can/want!
6) Upload the picture of you hold ing the sign and the video to Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter - all the social media you've got - using the hashtags #CanaryChoirOrcastra and #ItsAboutDamTime and email a link to Kaeley at kaeleykphmusic at gmail dot com so I can edit all the videos together into a big choir and orca-stra! Also be SURE to tag your member of Congress, meaning your Senators and representatives, and Joe Biden when you post it on social media!
If you're not sure who is representing you in Congress, you can use this tool https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members
Visit this Canary Calls for Compassion Google Doc to easily copy and paste legislators' info
And if you're not a documented citizen of the United States, are from another country, or you're not of voting age, we still want to hear from you!
Yes, we're being silly for such a serious issue, but approaching activism from a "life-affirming," heart-centered place, a sentiment expressed by activists like adrienne marie brown, author of "Pleasure Activism," says, may be just the thing to burst the DC elite out of their bubbles and keep us from burning out.
There are some amazing organizations all teaming up to take action on this issue and more.
Here are some excellent resources if you'd like to learn more.
More about Why this Issue Matters:
Since I was 5 years old growing up in the Pacific Northwest, feeling the painful effects of corporate toxins, stopped-up stuck ecosystem flow, and an imbalanced food system on my own body, I have had monthly recurring dreams in which orca whales tell me I need to take action soon or else they will be completely gone. And so will many of my immunocompromised canary friends, and my friends who are Indigenous, whose ancestors/families and ways of life were almost completely wiped out by European-driven genocide and conquest.
I am listening. I am taking the next step.
Removing the Snake River dams in Washington and Idaho may be our last chance to save salmon, who are going extinct, and thus Southern Resident orca whales, who are also endangered, and of course removing these dams would just be following treaty rights that have been broken for a long time between the U.S. government and the Lummi Nation. It would actually save money in the long run, and everyone who relies on the fishing or tourism industry in affected states has an interest in these dams being removed, too.
Thank you for caring and thank you for trying together to do the next right thing!
“Let It Flow” Lyrics (to the tune of “Let it Go” from Frozen)