Nelli Williams: Reflection on the President's visit to Dillingham

As I stood on the sidewalk in the rain alongside dozens of others and watched the Presidential motorcade drive through downtown Dillingham my heart swelled with pride, thankfulness and wonder. 
More than 6 years ago, when I first became involved in the effort to stop Pebble mine and protect Bristol Bay’s fish and businesses, a lot of people said it couldn’t be done. They said there was too much money in the ground, or that the companies were too big, and that it was just a matter of time before Pebble was developed.  
But they underestimated the power of the people of Salmon Country.
Over the course of the past many years I have had the privilege and honor of working along side the people of Bristol Bay. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people, sat at many kitchen tables and community meetings, and got a crash course in how this landscape - with it’s sweeping mountains and endless, winding salmon saturated rivers - feeds not just the bellies but the very hearts of the people here.
I looked around at the town and the people surrounding me. Giant banners covered buildings and 'no Pebble' signs and flags were in every direction I looked. The people of Bristol Bay have said hundreds and hundreds of times over the past decade that they want a future with rivers full of salmon. And that they are not willing to risk the future they want for the potential short-term gains that a project like Pebble might bring.
A majority of Alaskans agree with them, and thousands of people across America do too. Together we have demonstrated that when we set aside differences and come together in defense of the salmon and way of life we hold so dear, we can do powerful and unprecedented things. 
While there is more to be done, I am proud of all the people who have worked so hard to get us to this point and thankful that the President chose to spend some of his very precious time listening to the people of Bristol Bay.   
Today was a day that Bristol Bay will always remember. As I stood in the rain, I looked down at my daughter sleeping on my chest, oblivious to the rain and celebration surrounding her, my heart filled with hope that maybe, just maybe, she will know a world where wild salmon still thrive. 

Click here to read more reflections on the President's visit to Bristol Bay.