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For 10,000 years, the Swinomish tribe has fished the waters of northwestern Washington, relying on the bounty of salmon and shellfish not only as a staple of its diet but as a centerpiece of its culture. At the beginning of the fishing season, the tribe gathers on the beach for a First Salmon ceremony, a feast honoring the return of the migratory fish that binds the generations of a tribe that calls itself the People of the Salmon.
At the ceremonys conclusion, single salmon are ferried by boat in four directions north to Padilla Bay, east to the Skagit River, south to Skagit Bay and west to Deception Pass and eased into the water with a prayer that they will tell other salmon how well they were treated.
In recent years, though, the tribes harvest, diminished by vanishing habitat and warming waters fueled by climate change, hasnt been sufficient to feed the hundreds of people who come to pay homage to their ancestors and to the fish that sustained them.
We don't have that abundance anymore, said Lorraine Loomis, an elder who has managed the tribal fishery for 40 years. To get ceremonial fish, we buy it and freeze it.
The article goes on to explain many innovative things that the tribe is doing to help restore the environment around them. Many other tribes are coming to visit and understand how they can adopt these solutions for their own worlds.