Wednesday June 14, 2023


Scott Schuyler is standing by his boat on the banks of the Upper Skagit River working on his fishing net with a relative and getting it ready for a different fishery.

He had been fishing for Chinook salmon.

“We didn’t do very good at all. We caught a total of 19. And we were hoping for more, but you know, that’s, that’s fishing. Sometimes it’s okay. And sometimes it’s four,” he said.

Typically, the first big purchase a teenager makes is a car, but for Schuyler it was a boat. He’s been fishing on this river for more than 30 years. Today he’s still a fisherman, but he’s also a policy representative of the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe.

Alongside other Indigenous leaders in the area, he’s been a significant voice when it comes to advocating for fish and restoring the region’s ecosystem to its most undisturbed state. That means removing the dams and bringing back the wetlands where the now declining salmon once flourished and spawned.

Around his fishing spot, this bank is surrounded by picturesque small to mid-sized farms, and lumber yards, but before they were here, Schuyler’s ancestors were fishing here for tens of thousands of years.

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