The Hesutin Waterfall - CODAworx

The Hesutin Waterfall

Submitted by Judith & Daniel Caldwell

Client: Washington State University

Location: Pullman, WA, United States

Completion date: 2017

Artwork budget: $85,000

Project Team

concept, design, fabrication, installation

Judith Caldwell

concept, design, fabrication, installation

Daniel Caldwell

concept, design

Mark Sindell



The Hesutin Waterfall greets visitors to the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center at Washington State University. A 10’ tall bronze waterfall is integrated into a graphic illustration of the involuntary appropriation of Nez Perce (Nimi’ipuu) territory in the mid-19th Century. The ten-foot diameter black circle stained onto the board form concrete wall represents the size of the original Nimi’ipuu homeland. The round opening through the wall represents the 7.5 million acres promised by the Treaty of 1855. After gold was discovered on Nimi’ipuu land, the government reduced the acreage to 770,000 in the Treaty of 1863, which is proportionally represented by the 6” bronze disc at the top of the water course. The concept for the wall graphic originated with GGLO, the Architects for the Cultural Center.

The water feature is comprised of 39 unique bronze castings, welded and fitted together to form a 100” tall bronze watercourse, flanked by bronze ‘basalt’ columns, and scaled by five endangered Lamprey fish.A coordinating unique cast bronze grating was created by the artists for the base of the water feature. 


The Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center at WSU brings together people to explore and share different cultures in an extraordinary structure based on a traditional Nimi’ipuu pit dwelling, with soaring beams curving above the interior spaces. We designed five public art projects at the Center in collaboration with GGLO Architects and Nimi’ipuu historian Nakia Williamson-Cloud, with the goal of recognizing and remembering the original owners of the land now occupied by the University.

Hesutin is the Nimi’ipuu word for Lamprey, a critically endangered eel-like fish that traditionally had nutritional, cultural, spiritual, ceremonial, and even medicinal importance to the tribe. Lamprey are “burst and hold” climbers, using sucking mouthparts to latch onto rocks, contracting their powerful bodies and springing upwards to latch on again. But their remarkable skills are no match for dams, and fish ladders built for salmon don’t accommodate Lamprey. The Nimi’ipuu are working to save these ancient fish from extinction.