Monday June 5, 2023

Oregon Public Broadcasting

The sun just started to rise over the Columbia River in Bridgeport, Washington, when a Colvile fisherman caught the first salmon of the season.

“Every year we acknowledge our first foods, and it’s like a pay-it-forward-process,” said Darnell Sam, the Salmon Chief and a member of the Sn’ps’quosa tribe, which is part of the Colville Confederated Tribes.

Tribal members fileted the fish and returned part of its body to the water during an annual First Salmon ceremony.

“We always think about the future when we think about our foods. We give thanks for that food, and we continue to ask for that food for the future to come,” Sam said.

The tribes are worried about what that future might look like.

Youngsalmon migrate to the ocean, where they grow strong and large. This time of the year, a lot of them try to come back to the Upper Columbia River to spawn. But Sam said they can’t return because of the Chief Joseph Dam.

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