What does sharing salmon culture mean, and why is it important?
The Columbia Inter-Tribal Fish Commission serves to ensure that Native American treaty rights are protected so that they are able to fish at all usual and accustomed places. They specifically serve and work with the native Yakama, Warm Springs, Umatilla, and Nez Perce tribes, aiming towards a mission of working to restore fish runs through various restoration projects, protecting tribal fishing rights with a team of lawyers, sharing salmon culture, and providing fisher services to tribes. As ENVS 295 has taught us about the practice of engagement and its importance in today’s world, and as we have learned a great deal about CRITFC it is now time to think of a possible engagement project to collaborate with them on. As mentioned before, one of CRITFC’s main goals is to share salmon culture, and this is a necessary goal that our students at Lewis & Clark College can help achieve.
Sharing salmon culture is an important goal for CRITFC because this is how they educate others about their deep-rooted culture which salmon is a key part of. The salmon provide a lifestyle of fishing, a significant food source, a valuable trade good leading to tribal wealth, as well as their important ecosystem services to the Columbia River Basin and surrounding habitat. As they state themselves, educating the public about the science of restoration, the legal aspect of their work, and of tribal culture, “the tribes hope to increase interest for productive partnerships and support in the effort to restore Columbia River Basin salmon and lamprey.” Education is clearly a significant goal of theirs that ultimately serves to improve the state of Columbia River salmon, which face many obstacles on the path to full restoration.
An engagement project with CRITFC that would ultimately further this goal could involve organizing trips along the Columbia that would take people out to the actual locus of their work while hearing from tribe members. This would provide a way for people to learn directly from tribes who have been on this land far longer than we have, while being on the site that is at the center of controversy. This idea would have to figure out logistics of either organizing a day-trip on the land next to the river, or in the river itself if that is something that is permitted. This idea that focuses on education of salmon culture would do CRITFC a great service in their fight to restore the state of salmon in the Columbia, and this is an area that LC students could potentially assist with.
This project could involve a myriad of types of people. One focus could be on the general public, as this would help CRITFC accomplish their goal of educating the public about salmon culture. Another group to focus on could be students. However engagement ideally focuses on talking with and listening to people that don’t agree with you, and have different experiences. If this were to not focus on the general public or young scholars, an interesting Who to target would be people representing opposing stakeholders such as private hydroelectric companies would make an interesting session of engagement. Dams stand directly in the way of CRITFC’s goals, and this conversation could hold many benefits.
Because engagement is about listening to others experiences, inviting different stakeholders that have opposing interests would be a great learning opportunity for everybody. I think this would be similar to Narrative 4’s method of engagement which involves listening to someone’s experience and relaying that experience to the group. However, this would be different, as CRITFC would be able to have others immersed in their culture for a short period of time, and share what the salmon means to them; this would work in the case of the general public and students as well. The goal of engagement would be even more fulfilled through a way of finding how to get the subjects of this project more involved and make them more significant actors.