Bryson Liberty: Early Education

In this excerpt, Bryson Liberty talks about his elementary education on the Umatilla Reservation and his ninth-grade education Pendleton.


Bryson Liberty is a tribal elder of the CTUIR. Liberty has a military background and is a published author, as well as working as a health administrator and actor. His article about fishing at Celilo titled “On the Rock” was published in Cowboys and Indians magazine in 2011. He was on “The Cellar,” “Northern Exposure,” and “Little House on the Prairie”.


Well, it was a good school. We had one teacher in one room for four grades, first through the fourth grade. Then you graduated from there you went into the next room. Big time, you’re getting big time now; you’re going into the big room with the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. So that was good. I had a good education. Pretty rough school though. We didn’t have nice grass and lawns like they did in Pendleton. When we played football it was out there on, oh I think it used to be a river bottom that ran through there. Lot of rocks. But we had the regular, we had the playground stuff, things like that. They tried to do the best they could to keep up with the times, but we didn’t know the difference anyway, so. You know, who cares. After awhile the guys started getting bicycles, we used to have bicycle races. And those were pretty hectic things. But the whole school got involved in those. You know, had teams and everything. I never had trouble getting through school. I graduated from the 8th grade and they said okay next year you’re going to the 9th grade and you have to go into Pendleton. Ride the bus into Pendleton. I rode the bus from my old white house, it was about six miles from school, I rode that all the time I went to grade school. They had two buses. One went on the east side of the reservation and one went on the west side of the reservation. And they weren’t what you’d call a deluxe type buses either. But that’s the way it was.

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