: Hood-Gorge.com

Brigham Sisters Carry on Family Tradition

Susan Seubert,  Photographer
September 2, 2014 (Updated August 20, 2021)
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Editor’s note: Face coverings (ages 5 and up) are required at all indoor and outdoor public spaces statewide, regardless of vaccination status. Learn more here

Terrie Brigham nods toward a collection of black-and-white photographs carefully hung on the walls of the Brigham Fish Market: There’s a shot of her maternal grandfather, dip net in hand, poised over a torrent of white water; another of her father, uncle and paternal grandfather posing with the day’s catch of five-foot sturgeon; a wide shot of the Columbia River’s famed Celilo Falls, where her grandfather fished before The Dalles Dam was built.

And on another wall, there is a newer, color photograph of two pigtailed little girls, beaming amid a pile of nets, and a sturgeon that dwarfs both of them. “Yes, that’s my sister and me,” says Terrie, flashing the same easy smile and laughing eyes captured in the photo.

Two Native American women stand on a wooden platform over a river with a bridge in the background
Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, sisters Kim Brigham-Campbell and Terrie Brigham own a fish market in Cascade Locks.

Since 2014 Terrie and her sister, Kim Brigham-Campbell, members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, have shared their generations-old family tradition with the public. They opened the fish market in Cascade Locks, their riverfront hometown in the Columbia River Gorge, 40 miles east of Portland. The market specializes in wild, native-caught fish from the Columbia River: spring salmon and sturgeon in spring; summer chinook, sockeye and steelhead in summer; and fall chinook, Coho and steelhead in autumn. The Brigham family — often Kim and Terrie — catches all of it.

On any given day, you can see the family’s work, displayed on a thick bed of crushed ice in the market’s long glass display case. Your eye immediately goes to the trays of fat spring Chinook fillets, so bright and shiny they seem to glow. There’s smoked chinook too — right out of the smoker in back of the store — along with sturgeon fillets, smoked sturgeon, steelhead fillets, salmon chowder and tubs of savory homemade salmon dip. To provide customers with plenty of variety, the market also carries fresh Northwest seafood like halibut and scallops from regional sources.

A glass display case shows fresh fish for sale
The market specializes in wild, native-caught fish from the Columbia River: spring salmon and sturgeon in spring; summer chinook, sockeye and steelhead in summer; and fall chinook, coho and steelhead in autumn.

“It doesn’t get much fresher,” suggests Terrie, noting that the “springers” came in just a few hours ago, netted right near Cascade Locks. “People like to know where their food is coming from, and they like that there’s a story behind it.”

The story is a lot of hard work. The sisters, their spouses, their extended families and, increasingly, their kids do it all: catching, cleaning, filleting, smoking, selling to four area restaurants, working with a cannery and dealing with the day-to-day operation of the retail store. The family has a loyal clientele, “regulars who have come to us for years,” explains Kim, who would buy fish right off the dip-netting scaffolds in Cascade Locks. At the market, visitors can take home fillets as well as whole fish. They’ll vacuum seal any selection, or even season it to taste and wrap it in foil. “Barbecue ready!” says Terrie.

“The best part is being able to offer a very fresh salmon and to know where it came from,” says Kim, who owns the business with her husband, James. “We catch fish daily, bring it to the market, fillet it and offer it to our customers.”

Photo on the left shows a woman catching a fish in a net while standing on a wooden platform; photo on the right is a woman holding the freshly caught fish out of her car's window
Terrie Brigham displays a freshly caught sockeye salmon.

Depending on the season and conditions, the day’s catch may come from Kim dip-netting from one of the family scaffolds or from Terrie out on the Columbia, harvesting by line or gill net. The day starts as early as 5 a.m., readying gear and launching the boat nearby or, in winter months, traveling as much as 120 miles east to long-standing family fishing sites near Boardman. Terrie often fishes with her father, Robert Brigham.

“That’s my favorite part: fishing with my dad,” Terrie says. Even with the Gorge’s notorious wind and range of weather conditions, “I just appreciate that I can be out on the river with him. It’s everything to me.”

“Fishing the Columbia has always been a way of life,” echoes Kim. “I grew up fishing the scaffolds. It’s what paid for my school clothes, it’s what has given me my hard-work ethic. I get to eat the salmon, our people’s first food — what an honor. I am lucky and blessed for my life as a native.”

Exterior of the fish market
The Brigham Fish Markets sits in the heart of Cascade Lakes

The market has for years anchored Cascade Locks’ vibrant Wa Na Pa Street, the main thoroughfare. Steel fish sculptures and overflowing flower baskets adorn the market’s stone-and-wood facade, and a patio area invites customers to linger and enjoy lunch with a view of the Columbia and the fir-fringed Gorge.

For the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, the market carries forth the honored place salmon has in the lives of the people of the Columbia River. “I don’t know if the fact the store is Native-owned is important to our customers,” remarks Terrie, “but it’s important to us.” As hard-working women shouldering the family legacy, Kim and Terrie look every bit as proud and happy as those pigtailed little girls.

About The
Author

Tina Lassen
Freelance writer and editor Tina Lassen writes about travel and outdoor recreation for several national publications, and is at work on a guidebook about watching wildlife in North America. Thanks to a career that lets her live anywhere, Tina happily makes her home in Hood River.