Celilo Falls named after the “Si-le-lah” tribe, was located about one hundred and two miles from Portland Oregon. Today Celilo falls no longer exists because the Dalles Dam was built March 10 1957; it was covered up by what is now Lake Celilo. Celilo Falls was a very important place for Native Americans nearby. Many tribes used the falls for fishing. Fishing platforms were built next to the water and men would spend much of their days catching salmon.
Since the early 1800’s, Native Americans fished the spring and fall salmon runs, the water’s edge, and the shore of the Columbia River. Later, small cable cars built by fish buyers linked the shore to the islands. They used two types of dip nets: one was stationary, the other movable through the water. The dip nets attached to poles ranged from 15 to 25 feet in length. There were about 480 fishing stations around Celilo Falls. Fishers built wooden platforms out over the water catching salmon that weighed up to sixty pounds. The wood platforms were very wet and slippery so the men had to be really strong. The men tied themselves with ropes that they tied around their waists in the event that they fell in the river.
During the Great Depression, whites began fishing at Celilo Falls. Indians protected their treaty-reserved stations and the white people had to leave. Soon Congress approved funding for The Dalles Dam, the dam would flood Celilo Falls and part of Celilo Village. The Celilo Fish Committee, The local fisherman protested the dam in formal resolutions and in testimony before Congress. But the dam was built anyway and they lost their place to fish.
When the United States government drowned Celilo Falls, it compensated the tribes for flooding their fishing sites. But it didnt, purchase their fishing rights. Those rights, as set forth in the 1855 treaties, were not affected when the government paid for tribal fishing sites, but the tribes’ economy was destroyed.
The Native Americans that lived in the area that was covered by Lake Celilo were relocated to reservations. When Celilo Falls was covered up, much more was lost than a historic spot. Many of the fishermen didnt know how to make a living. Tribal leaders had to accept a four million dollar settlement from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.
This is a picture of Celilo falls in 1899. Today the only way you can see Celilo falls is to look at pictures. A long time ago Celilo Falls and its fishing industry was one of the most popular tourist sites in America now it doesnt even exist.
Here are a couple of websites I used for pictures and information