Virginia Beavert: Inherited Fishing Sites and Different Names for Language

In this video, Dr. Virginia Beavert discusses inherited fishing sites, memories of repairing fishing nets and talking with a man from another tribe who spoke Kiksht.

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: It was my next place that I stopped on the river. The thing is, see, fishing sites were all inherited. And the main family that inherited that fishing site would provide courtesy fishing. And people would line up, maybe five people would line up, and he’d step aside and let them catch a few fish at a time. And that’s the way they would, you know, fishing. Of course, there weren’t that many Indians at that time. And up and down the river we had quite a few inherited areas. Beginning up at Wind River, downriver there at Wind River. That’s where we started. My brother and I used to fish there. My father told me not to wander, wander up that river. He said it’s dangerous. But he never told me why. So one day this young man came along. And he was watching me mending a net.

My brother said you take those nets and you mend them while I’m out on the river. And I never did that before. But I had kind of an idea on how to do it. The young man came along and he watched me and he says ‘you know, you’re doing that wrong. I’ll show you how to do it.’ So he showed me how to do the knot. So I started practicing and I got pretty good at it. And he just sat and watched me, he says ‘oh you’re doing fine, you know, just keep it up.’ And he said ‘I’m going to tell you a legend.’ And he told me this legend. But he was from Port Dalles and he spoke a different dialect and I don’t understand it. It’s that Kiksht language, except they don’t call it Kiksht, they call it something else. But it’s the same language you know. Root.

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