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NW tribal fisheries leader dies from COVID-19

Celilo Village leader Bobby Begay CRITFC
Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
Celilo Village leader Bobby Begay

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Yakama tribal member and leader of Celilo Village, a fishing community on the Columbia River, died Friday night from COVID-19 complications, officials announced Saturday.

Bobby Begay was lead fish technician for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and "was dedicated to his family, the Celilo community, salmon, the river and tribal culture," the commission said in a post to its Facebook page, which went on to say:

"He was a bridgebuilder who connected many groups and individuals across cultural divides. His example of intertribal brotherhood embodied the hopes and values envisioned by tribal leaders from the Yakama, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Nez Perce tribes when they came together to form CRITFC.

"He was an incredibly generous person and had a willingness to share not only his harvest, but the message of why salmon, lamprey, and the river are central to our culture. He did so for countless groups with enthusiasm and humor.

"We extend our thoughts and prayers to his family Megan, Daisy, Steven, Henry, and Jackie, and the entire Celilo Village and mourn with them the loss of a remarkable man," the statement concluded

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs had warned Tuesday of possible exposure to COVID-19 for anyone who attended the Celilo Village salmon feast over Easter weekend. Since then, the tribes on Friday reported four COVID-19 cases, along with 65 negative results and four pending results.

If anyone on the reservation experienced COVID-19 symptoms (cough, fever or shortness of breath) they were urged to call the Warm Springs Health and Wellness Center to get instructions from nurses, and to call: Warm Springs Public Health at 541-553-2460 or Warm Springs Health and Wellness nurse line at 541-553-5512 or after hours line at 866-470-2015.

The area of Celilo Village was once a major cultural and trading center for Native Americans, until Celilo Falls was inundated by The Dalles Dam in 1957.

Back in 2015, KGW interviewed Begay, who was captain of a hazing boat that used pyrotechnics from a shotgun to push as many sea lions as possible back down river from Bonneville Dam, to protect the salmon.

KTVZ news sources



  1. Pure propaganda and shameless reporting.. You notice that the story said he died from “Covid-19 complications.” Which means he was already in poor health and died from something else.

    1. If he had not contracted CoVid, we would still be alive.
      Condolences to the family.
      Please be careful, asymptotic people can spread virus when they appear to be symptom free.

      1. Are you sure? According to Dr Erickson From California and his partner, both Virologists with over 20 years experience, Hos[ital administration are being pressured to add Covid to the list of diagnosis. You hear that over 54,000 people have died of covid-19 but when you look at the CDC website they only list 24,555 have died. 10,000 of which were in nursing home that were ordered by their governor by executive order to take in covid patients. So, the number of covid deaths were increased by the orders of governing leaders such as Governor Cuomo for one and Gavin Newsome for another. The true frenetic numbers would have been just over 14,000 nation wide.

    2. dying from covid 19 is not actually a thing – dying from the pneumonia that comes when you have a covid 19 infection is a very real thing – an expert like you already knew that though – just needed an excuse for a hissy fit

  2. Gotta feel for the tribal/native population. They’re already one of the highest (if not the highest) group at risk for COVID. Plus I would imagine they’re being underserved in terms of testing & treatment.

    1. Sorry but the highest at risk population goes to those living in nursing homes. And over 10,000 of those people have died as a direct result of executive order by their governors.

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