Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Tribal Fishing Tradition Runs Deep

Tribal Fishing Tradition Runs Deep


At Lyle Falls, Washington’s Klickitat River
rushes toward the Columbia River Gorge. Between these steep canyon walls, the fishing
pools run deep. And so do tribal traditions. James Kiona Jr. of the Yakama Tribe grew up
watching his elders fish here. As a young kid, I ran up and down this whole
river, just all over the place with my brothers and sisters and cousins. All the elders would tell us to be careful
around the river. It is a very violent river. When he was old enough, his father taught
him. I wanted to teach him earlier but you’ve got
to want to fish. If you don’t want to then there’s no use in
teaching. When he decided he wanted to fish, that’s
when I taught him. Super early in the morning, I came up here
with my father. He put me up on the scaffold right here. I was just learning the motions, you know,
not thinking I was going to catch anything. Now he’s part of a larger family. It’s like a community up here. All the people who come up here, that fish
up here. They’re all my relatives. They’re all my family. When you get up here, it’s like a whole different
world. For generations, tribal fishermen have stood
on these rock walls and dipped their nets into the churning waters. Below, they feel for the rocks. And they feel for the fish. You can feel everything in this pole. You’re pretty much in tune with the current,
the fish inside. Once you start doing it, after awhile you
catch the feeling of it. My dad always explained it as fish fever. You catch fish fever. And when a salmon hits the net… The fight’s on. It requires a lot of upper body strength because
you’ve got to pull the pole up. Every fish is different. They’ve got a different fight in them. James Kiona Sr. grew up watching fishermen
at Celilo Falls on the Columbia River. I used to run around there when I was a kid,
pack fish for the fishermen. They’d give me a nickel, a nickel for a fish. When the Dalles Dam was built, the falls were
flooded, and the fishery at Celilo was lost. I’d seen the falls go under and we’d seen
the fall go under before when the high water came. You just have to sit and wait until they came
back. This time it never came back. Keeping the tribal tradition at Lyle Falls
hasn’t been easy. I’m 85 years old. I might not be here that much longer, but
this is where I learned to fish. I remember when the state used to try to push
the Indians off the fishery here. Our people had to fight back and still fish. Because it’s one thing that the states and
white people never realized that the salmon, which we know as wa-ka-nish, was our main
food and way of life, and we depended strongly on it. Together tribal fishermen keep the fishery
going strong. They pass down their knowledge. And they make sure to leave some fish in the
river to protect future runs. We don’t fish to the last fish. We fish to catch what we need and support
our families, and we have closures to let the fish go by, so we know there will be more
fish coming back in the years to come for our children and our grandchildren.

76 comments on “Tribal Fishing Tradition Runs Deep

  1. I have no problem with tribal rights until they use modern devices that weren't used back when the treaties were written. Forty foot aluminum net handles, plywood planks, monofilament gill nets, metal spears, 1,000,000 candle powered spotlights and gasoline-powered boats should not be used.

  2. You never say your fishing when you use a net. Its more like you are channeling the fish into a tight Valley then netting them. its like scoping fish out of a fish tank. your trapping the fish. your not fishing your catching the fish. and seems likes 80% comments say the same thing.

  3. You guys are awsome.I used to live in The
    Dalles and knew some of the Clickatat tribe, big boys some of em are.Seen net fishing on the Deschutes at Lyle bridge The falls at Cililo.Falls would have been incredable to see.I discovered an old post card that was hand colored from before they built the dam .

  4. Net fishing is the right of all tribes from that area .It has been the Indians livlyhood since before Lewis and Clark made their voyage of discovery.

  5. There is a lot of stupidity and greed on both sides. Both sides have taken and wasted resources. Depleted fishing grounds west coast to east coast. I've seen a native guy snag over 50 salmon just to see them rot away in the back of his truck while he was at the bar. Then I saw a white guy get caught taking 4 times the limit of walleye 3 times the limit of perch. Stupidity all around.

  6. Tribal tradition my ass! Its just the fucking indians TAKING what they want, fuck tradition if we were to go by tradition, their scalps would be worth a $20 gold piece!

  7. What a pile of crap. Nothing tribal or traditional or skillful about taking a lucky dip with an aluminium pole and a nylon net. That fat lump needs to get a real rod so maybe he loses some calories and doesnt need to fish so much

  8. Dumbest thing I have heard were not in the stone ages
    Be great full for what you have and don’t take away their way of life just because you don’t agree with them

  9. Anglers always hate
    Till they ask me to buy a salmon or salmon eggs
    Fishing with such techniques have been around forever

  10. I guess they're keeping the Native American tradition alive with their state-of-the-art graphite titanium fishing nets and plywood platforms..?

  11. oh boy … the rope tied around them in case they fall in looks really "SAFE" I guess they can't afford a harness and break away shock lanyard ?

  12. Looks like white man fishing at celilo falls! Wish we could slatter fish and just trust the state to provide more for us!

  13. I wonder if the percentage of these guys selling dry salmon at their local beer stores is bigger than here in Canada. I seen it in Quebec and now here in B.C at many liquor and beer stores.

  14. Catching or fishing. doesn't matter the term..its locals getting food to put on the table..people killing animals for sport are called hunters why not sportsmen? So???

  15. The white people are getting what they deserve, karma is a bitch…. white people are killing themselfs and do'nt even know it, too stupid and blind to figure it out. Love the show.

  16. Sick practice, we used to grab woman when we wanted boom boom too, we dont do that anymore because it's insane. The klickitat can't handle this kind of over "fishing". You got to have some perspective, if you are from this planet you are 'first nation' from some part of it, this racial ancestorial platitudes these 'natives' exploit is pathetic.

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