Bryson Liberty: The “ Scaffolds Were Architectural Wonders

In this excerpt, Bryson Liberty talks about how scaffolds were built and the process of fishing.

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”.


Those guys used to fish off the railroad bridge, those guys had a long trick, they’d have to go down there and walk clear back two or three hundred yards out on the railroad bridge. They had ladders that were going down, they’d have to lower everything down, you know, and then haul their salmon out in gunny sacks when they’d get ready to gill. That was pretty rough fishing there. But some of those scaffolds were architectural wonders– like those guys right underneath the big falls had these folds. The falls, the cliffs went around right here. They put these, built these platforms out here and they’d hang these big heavy four by fours down and then on these four by fours they’d build a platform. So when they dip they could walk along the platform. But usually at that spot where they were they didn’t have to do any walking because when the fish were running I’d see those guys every time they’d go with their dip they’d get something. One or two sometimes three salmon. Everytime. Boy, they’d just get them out, hit them in the head, kill them, put in them in the box and man get back there and get another load just as fast as they could. They had guys over here putting them in the salmon, hitting them and put them in the gunny sack, take them up, ship them over to [gestures]…but those guys, man, when the salmon were running it was money city. Money city. Guys were just, guys could make a lot of money down there. Made more than 3,000 dollars the government gave them for flooding Celilo Falls.

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