Salmon Nation, Salmon Forests

wy-kan-ush, salmon to Columbia basin
people —pum – the creator
sees pum fragile
so conjures up grand council
offers salmon first
food of gods
then water, home for King of Fish

longhouses built for offerings
spring, chinook, sockeye, silver
bodies of creation
tribes sing sacred reverence
salmon: the returner, anadromous
egg sac gestation
in clear fresh water
migration to sea,
return to home tributaries
circle of reproduction, death, return – life

salmon from Latin salmo,
salire, “to leap”
indicator species now
keystone for all species
giant firs
nitrogen loads
from the carcasses
eucharist to all
our wy-kan-ush

My strength is from the fish; my blood is from the fish, from the roots and berries. The fish and game are the essence of my life. I was not brought from a foreign country and did not come here. I was put here by the Creator.

— Chief Weninock, Yakama, 1915

[Photo by Todd Mintz]

Saving Canada's Wild Salmon Policy | Hakai Magazine

Paul Kirk Haeder has covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/ community journalism in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, and PK12 districts. He organized part-time faulty. His book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. He blogs from Waldport, Oregon. Read his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.