Louie Pitt: “A Battle to Watch the Fisherman Pull Those Big Fish Up.”

Louie Pitt (Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs) talks about his memories of visiting Celilo Falls and watching other fish. 2:11.

Bio: Louie Pitt works for the Warm Springs tribe in Governmental Relations. Louie Pitt works to continue traditional culture education opportunities, and advocates for treaty rights and protection of natural resources. He is the brother of artist Lillian Pitt.


“Oh gosh, yeah. I always was excited to go there. I was just a little guy and I was the youngest with two older sisters I had to sit in the middle. I had very bad eyes and I could kind of see something that was almost remarkable as Celilo which was below Celilo, where the river narrowed down to like 50 or 60 yards wide. The mighty Columbia, 50 yards wide! It just shot through with water. We weren’t allowed to go down there as kids because it was far too dangerous. But it was amazing, I see pictures of it now, but I never got to get close. But you could hear the growl, the groaning of the river. You could hear it from probably a quarter mile away, just really rumbled and the smell, you could smell fish. Smell kinda the clean mist of the area. And it was cooler down there, when you got close to the falls itself. And just, you know, they’d holler when they’d catch a fish and you’d see them. In those days, you really had a challenge when you caught a fish because they were, that’s their element down there in the water. And they didn’t like it all, to be caught. So it was a battle to watch the fisherman pull those big fish up, so it was incredible. And then they get them on up and their wrist would reach over, and their stick would be right there, waiting for them, and boom; knock them in the head. And throw them in there, their box. And everybody else would just kinda nod their heads around ‘good one, good sized fish.’ ‘Good for you’ [native language] The Warm Springs say that’s good for you.”

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