Bryson Liberty: Eels Were the Main Fare

Bryson Liberty talks about eels (also known as Pacific Lamprey) which are an important food resource of the Columbia River region.

Bio: 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”.


“The first time I went out, I got over there and I thought, ‘well I’m here for the night’. And I thought, Jeez, I didn’t bring anything to eat. So I went over to where this fire was. Here these guys are cooking eels. That was the main fare, eels. Eels a la gratin. So I went over and I said, ‘where do you get them eels?’ ‘Oh, over there.’ I went over and got a couple of eels. The way you cut them is just like cutting up a sausage or bologna or something. And you cut them into chunks about that long. They had a fire going and you got these sticks you just cook them over the fire. That’s what we’d eat at night. And if you want a drink of water, you just drink out of the river. Columbia River in those days you could drink out of the river.”

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