Kootenai Falls is one of the largest free flowing waterfalls in the Northwest. The falls are considered sacred to the Ktunaxa people whose ancestors inhabited the region. It is a place where tribal members commune with spiritual forces. Lawrence Kenmille, a Montana Ktunaxa, explains that “we went there for a thousand years to pray. So you might liken it to a church site.” When a hydroelectric dam project was slated to reconfigure these falls in the 1970’s, the Ktunaxa people successfully fought a lawsuit to preserve the site — a rare win for the rivers around here. Seems like dams mediate much of the rest of the water flow in Northern Montana and Idaho – (i.e. the massive Cabinet Gorge Dam and Libby Dam).
It was a minor miracle I made it to the falls with my loaded bike. After climbing up several steep sets of stairs, a bridge, and a rugged trail, I finally arrive. I was immediately struck by the energy of this place and spontaneously decided to spend the rest of the day here. I found a spot for a waystation, planted seeds, and did several listening experiments. My prompt was “listen as a milkweed seed.” So I stuck the geophone in the waystation soil and listened to the humming vibrations of the falls through the soil. The seeds will be propelled by these revered vibrations in the spring. I also tried out my binaural mic – a pair of microphones that are filtered by the shape of the human ear – when listened to with headphones, they create a three-dimensional sound of actually being in the space. This track overlays both these recordings. Enjoy!