Bryson Liberty: Trouble on the Seasonal Rounds

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 remember when my mother was a little girl. She was about eight or nine years old. She got her first horse. And they used to go horse back from Pendleton clear over the Blue Mountains, horseback. They’d go clear to Union, Oregon, which is on the other side of LaGrande and catch fish or steelhead, salmon. And they’d catch them and dry them. They didn’t have to go to Celilo. Well, they’d take the same path every year when they’d hit the Grand Ronde Valley, come out of the Blue Mountains. Come down and go all of the way. They had a trail going all the way across. One year they came down, this was maybe five or six families, it’d be oh 20, 30 people. They were coming down, come out of the trees, heading down the trail and there was a cabin. Someone had come in the interim from when they were there last there last spring, and built a cabin. And they didn’t know what that cabin was. So they started down the trail, and they’re heading out this way, and four or five guys came running out of the cabin, and started hollering at them. “Get off, get out of here, get going.” And they didn’t do anything, they just kept moving, you know. And looking at these guys, what’s the matter with these guys, who are they? Where’d they come from? So pretty soon, a guy came out with a gun. Another guy. And they started shooting at them. And my mother said, my grandma said, ‘gallop, gallop, run! Everybody run!’ So they started galloping on down the trail. These guys were shooting at them. My mother said she was running as fast as she could on this new horse that she had. She said she could hear the whistles, the bullets whining over her head. When those guys were shooting at them. She said they just galloped as far as they could until they couldn’t see those guys anymore.”

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