Salmon - The Spokesmodel of the Northwest
If you played the word association game with “Pacific Northwest”, what would come to mind? Rain, green, Space Needle, ocean…. Odds are, that list would include “salmon,” one of the most enduring icons of the Pacific Northwest, and a creature that has sustained the environment and human society in Cascadia throughout history. Images of the Northwest invariably include salmon spawning in the rivers and being eaten by bears or eagles, Native American totems of salmon, fishing boats heading to sea, plates of gourmet prepared salmon steaks, historical photos of Native Americans spear fishing at waterfalls, current photos of catch-and-release fly fishermen wading in rivers.
Above: Salmon passing through the fish ladder at the Chittenden Locks in Seattle. Film by artist Jeff Hull.
To discuss the role of salmon in historical and current day ecosystem, culture and politics is a daunting task. Topics include: A basic primer on salmons’ life cycle and the species; salmon’s integral role in the Pacific NW ecosystem and the impact of environmental change on salmon populations; tribal culture, mythology, and political history; current politics of resource management and conflicting demands (land development and its impact, farming vs hydroelectric energy vs salmon preservation, tribal vs commercial vs recreational fishing rights, and the wild vs farmed salmon debate); culinary topics; and salmon fishing as recreation.
Cascadia Song is embarking on an occasional series touching on all these topics, providing links to informational resources. To start, educational links on the topics of the salmon life cycle and the species native to the Pacific Northwest are listed below.
Salmon Life Cycle:
Species of Pacific Northwest Salmon: