deLay480418-04. Celilo Village longhouse, Feast of the First Salmon dinner. April 18, 1948. Standing in rear, Chief Tommy Thompson and Henry Charlie. The purpose of this annual feast was to give thanks and welcome the first salmon to start the spring run up the Columbia River. With the beginning of each year's new salmon run, Celilo Indians could eat fresh fish instead of the dried salmon they preserved from the year before. Historically this was expected to be the second or third week of April, but the Indians would begin the celebration only after the fish actually appeared. Just the year before, in 1948, Chief Tommy Thompson had gone to the Warm Springs reservation to invite all the Indians to Celilo for the feast on the next weekend when the fish were anticapated, but when the fish didn't run he had to postpone the ceremony for another week. And nine years before, in 1940, the feast was held on the first weekend of April, at the time it was said to be the earliest the feast had ever been held. Attendance had ranged from, according to newspaper reports, 47 Indians in 1938, rising to 600 at this one. The following year, in 1949, the feast was again postponed due to no fish. With the end of Celilo in the forseeable future, crowds continued to grow and finally, in 1956, at the last Feast of the First Salmon before the innundation, unseasonably warm weather in the late winter thawed the ice fields and Celilo falls flooded making fishing impossible. Celilo Indians were forced to buy 400 pounds of salmon on the commercial market in Portland to feed the crowd, which the newspaper reported as being comprised of "More white folks with cameras than Indian fishermen with dipnets." Ever since the falls were covered, the feast has been held at a pre-arranged time.