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”.
“When I first started fishing, when I was just a little guy, five or six years old–my mother and dad and I, we used to pack up and go to the mountains all summer. Move to the mountains for all of summer. And I was like five or six. I don’t think I was even in school. But my dad taught me how to fish. So he’d go out and cut a little pole right out there in the woods, it would be oh, seven or eight feet long, put a hook and line on it. And taught me, here’s how you fish. You can get periwinkles here for bait or you can get grasshoppers. And boy, did I love to fish. I’d be out there way before they’d be up in the morning. I’d be out there killing grasshoppers for bait. And I catch fish all day long, never got tired of it. And there was a place called McCoy Creek. It’s all dried up now because of logging and I don’t know what else. I guess cattle and stuff. But anyway it’s all dried up now. Great big stream. Beautiful holes for fish where the trees used to fall into the creek bottom and it would dam it up and these big pools would form, which is what they used to have on Umatilla on my reservation. Now, they keep the river all cleared out of all debris and you don’t find those pools anymore. I don’t know what fishing’s like. I don’t fish anymore. And it started dying out, fishing, when I was still on the reservation because those pools were just no longer there. But that McCoy Creek, man, there were trout a foot long in those creeks were pretty good fish. Fish all day long. We’d eat fish every day. My dad would go out and shoot a deer. One time I remember he shot a bear. And we had bear meat that summer.”