Wednesday July 12, 2023


On the steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento last week, beneath the grand white dome, Sarah Bates called out the absence of salmon from July 4th holiday celebrations.

There had been parades and fireworks, said Bates, who commercially fishes out of San Francisco. “But when I sat down for dinner with my family, what was missing? Where’s the fish?” she shouted with disdain, presumably within earshot of some lawmakers. “Where’s the salmon? Where’s my fresh, local salmon? Today’s my baby’s first birthday. She’s not eating salmon tonight.”

The next generation was also on the mind of Jason Jackson-Reed, a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. He addressed the crowd as he cradled his 1-month-old son in a carrier.

“Our [tribe’s] social well-being, physical, our cultural, our spiritual well-being, it all runs parallel to the salmon,” he said. “If the salmon aren’t doing good, we’re not doing good.”

He traced the construction of dams and demise of once abundant fishing stocks to hard times and poor health for the Hoopa people, including diabetes, high blood pressure and addiction.

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