Virginia Beavert: Fishing Before the Dam

In this video, Dr. Virginia Beavert discusses the Yakama River, Celilo, and the effect on people’s lifestyle after the flooding of Celilo

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.

Transcription: And then later on I started coming to Celilo but I used to go to the local rivers, like the Yakima river, that’s where most of the people lived along the river, clear up into the Cascades–near homesites–all the way down through Ellensburg and on through the Canyon and down the river. And there was a place called Táptat and now it’s called Prosser. It’s where my grandmother had another dry shack. And when I got a little older that’s where I remember watching the fisherman spear the fish. And it was shallow. so they could wade out there and fish, you know, in the rapids. It was before there was a dam there. And later on they stopped them from spearing the fish and they had to build those platforms. So that’s why, I guess, a lot of people had to change their lifestyles too. I know it wouldn’t…when Celilo is flooded it changed a lot of people’s lifestyle.

Related Content