The Land and The People
The Wasco bands on the Columbia River lived in permanent settlements and spoke the Chinookan language. They were principally fishers and traders who exchanged their root breads, salmon meats, and bear grass for other commodities.
The Upper and Lower Deschutes bands of Walla Walla (now Warm Springs) lived upriver from the Wascos and spoke Sahaptin. Salmon was also an important staple for them, but they moved their winter and summer villages in order to follow game, dig roots, and harvest berries.
The Paiutes lived south of the Columbia River, high plateau country, and spoke a Shoshonean dialect. Fishing was not as important to them as for tribes nearer the Columbia River. Their hunting and gathering activities required a more nomadic existence.
The Wascos and Deschutes bands of the Walla Wallas built scaffolding over falls in the Columbia and its tributaries, where they used long-handled dip nets to harvest the migrating salmon. These and other tribal groups developed an extensive economic network that centered on the mid-Columbia region and depended heavily on the Columbia River and its resources, particularly the salmon.
Historically, catching the first spring salmon involved extensive ceremony and approval of the tribal chiefs. Most recently, Indians continue their pursuit of salmon for sustenance and as a part of their cultural heritage; however, few sites such as Celilo Falls, destroyed by the Dalles Dam in 1956, remain.
You may still see Indians fishing at Sherar's Falls on the Deschutes River.