Virginia Beavert: How Tommy Thompson Must Have felt

Virginia Beavert (Yakama) talks about Tommy Thompson, Flora Thompson, and the loss of Celilo Falls. 1:42.

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 wrote this little paper about how Tommy Thompson must’ve felt as he stood there with his wife watching those rocks disappear. And I was teaching it in my class one time and my students started crying. And I said, yeah, that’s the way I felt too at first. Next time I went down there it was all flat, that’s when I cried. It was sad. It wasn’t long that Tommy Thompson died. His wife survived for awhile and evidently, she didn’t get any help from anybody and in the winter time, she was trying to keep warm. In this little tiny house trailer. But it caught fire and she burned up in it. It seemed like somebody should’ve been looking after her.”

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