Bryson Liberty: Traditional Language and English Names

Bryson Liberty talks about his grandmother, mother, and aunts having English names and why he’s not fluent in his language.

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”.

I guess that’s just one of the names they gave my grandmother at the time. Probably because she had two daughters, three daughters with her, so it seemed proper she should have an English name. But her name was Louise Martin and she had her mother was Elizabeth Martin. My mother and Elizabeth were very loving sisters but my mother was a little more modernized than my aunt ’cause she still always wore the wing dresses that all the older Indian ladies wore. And she and my grandmother always talked Indian at home. And the reason that I’m not fluent in my language is that I don’t know why but my mother didn’t want my grandmother talking Indian to me all the time. And that’s why I’m not really fluent in language which I’m very sorry about. Because I’d like to go back home now and talk to my friends in Indian. It would be unique. But they have a good language program now back where the kids are learning language so I probably ought to go back and sit there with those little kids and learn the language.

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