Producer: Jule Gilfillan  Camera: Nick Fisher, Michael Bendixen   Editor: Nick Fisher   Volunteer Series Coordinator: Naseem Rahka  Volunteer Digital Assets Coordinator: Tom Hubbard 
Archival Video Courtesy of:  Alan Best, Chignik Bay Adventures, David Hartmann, National Geographic, Oregon State University, Special Collections & Archives Research Center and University of South Carolina.
Archive Images Courtesy of: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, Oregon Historical Society and Wikicommons

Special Thanks: Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Port of Kalama 


Oregonians over 40 remember the fun of dipping nets into rivers alive with huge runs of eulachon smelt.

Today, the tiny, mild-flavored fish is officially listed as “threatened,” and their harvest is radically restricted by state fish and wildlife managers.

In large part, the listing is thanks to action by the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, which has revered and celebrated the yearly return of this “savior fish” for millennia. The Cowlitz Tribe hopes not only to revive the species but also restore their spiritual life and culture through communities practices like the eulachon smelt celebration.