The Importance of Salmon to the Tribes

  • Salmon are part of our spiritual and cultural identity.
  • Over a dozen longhouses and churches on the reservations and in ceded areas rely on salmon for their religious services.
  • The annual salmon return and its celebration by our peoples assure the renewal and continuation of human and all other life.
  • Historically, we were wealthy peoples because of a flourishing trade economy based on salmon.
  • For many tribal members, fishing is still the preferred livelihood.
  • Salmon and the rivers they use are part of our sense of place. The Creator put us here where the salmon return. We are obliged to remain and to protect this place.
  • Salmon are indicator species: as water becomes degraded and fish populations decline, so too will the elk, deer, roots, berries, and medicines that sustain us.
  • As our primary food source for thousands of years, salmon continue to be an essential aspect of our nutritional health.
  • Because our tribal populations are growing (returning to pre-1855 levels), the needs for salmon are more important than ever.
  • The annual return of the salmon allows the transfer of traditional values from generation to generation.
  • Without salmon returning to our rivers and streams, we would cease to be Indian people.
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