One of the Plateau tribes’ most important ceremonies is the First Salmon Feast. This salmon ceremony must occur before open fishing can take place. It is why every fishing season begins with a ceremonial harvest for fishers to catch salmon for use in these ceremonies. The timing of these feasts matches the arrival of the salmon to each longhouse. The feasts move upriver with the fish. On this weekend, the feast takes place at the Celilo Indian Village 13 miles upriver from The Dalles.
I showed up Saturday as the pow wow portion of the weekend was in full swing. Dancers were in full regalia and competing fiercely for points that could win them a nice prize. The barn was full. They danced on a packed dirt floor and there were at least a half dozen circles taking turns providing the songs.
I was treated great by everyone involved. Fred Hill, Sr., was the master of ceremonies and tried to get me dance! No way was that going to happen! No one needs to see that. He got some good laughs from crowd at least.
I started early Sunday morning and started shooting as they built the fires. I shot fish being cleaned, filleted and placed on sticks and the grill. They butchered four deer for the occasion as well.
I wasn't able to shoot the actual ceremony, but there was plenty going on outside the long house to keep me busy.
I'm grateful for Bobby Begay and everyone else who showed me first class hospitality the entire weekend. The food was great and I hope to be able to do it again.
©The Oregonian, 2013