Virginia Beavert: Because of Loss of Celilo “Elders Died with a Broken Heart”

Virginia Beavert (Yakama) talks about the loss of Celilo Falls and its impact on fishing. 1:39.

Bio: Virginia Beavert received her Doctorate in Linguistics from the University of Oregon and teaches her native language, Ichishkin. Virginia Beavert, a member of the Yakama Nation, is a highly respected teacher and fluent speaker of her language, Yakama Sahaptin (Ichishkíin Sɨ́nwit)c. She was a key planner of the Yakama exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, and has served on numerous committees and planning councils related to the documentation and preservation of Native languages. ( She grew up learning Nez Perce, and also Klickitat, Umatilla and Yakama dialects of Sahaptin. A respected Yakama elder, she has made invaluable contributions to Confluence at the Sacajawea Park Story Circles project, and the Vancouver Land Bridge.


“I think a lot of the Indian elders died with a broken heart losing Celilo. And the compensation they received, some of them wouldn’t even accept it. A lot of it was turned away. They said this does not make up for what we’re losing. The amount each individual was paid was, I guess, even less than what you make in one weeks wages. It didn’t go very far. So then they had to turn to commercial fishing, dip-netting. And when the public was complaining about Indians dip netting, well, it was their way of fishing. They couldn’t fish on a platform anymore, Celilo was gone.”

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