Salmon People: A tribal fishing family’s fight to preserve a way of life

By Katie Campbell (ProPublica)
Dec. 21, 2022 2 p.m.

When the salmon are running up the Columbia River, Native fishermen are there with them. They live, eat and sleep at the river. Their children grow up at the river. They catch salmon for subsistence, for ceremonies, and for their living.

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This is the life of the Wy-Kan-Ush-Pum, the Salmon People. It is a life Columbia River tribal people have lived since time immemorial and have fought for decades to protect. Over the last century and a half, they have watched as forces eroded their access to salmon. Treaties removed them from their traditional fishing areas; dams massively reduced the numbers of salmon that swam in the waters; environmental contamination further poisoned the well.

And now, as climate change threatens the salmon throughout its life, the stakes of that fight are existential.

Read all of our coverage about the threats facing salmon, the failure of hatcheries to save them, and the government’s broken treaties that swore to protect them.

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