Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Welcome Home the Salmon

On Sunday, Sept. 14, we again escaped our farm projects and drove to the coast for Camp Westwind's Welcome Home the Salmon ceremony. The camp's barges took us across the Salmon River to the beach on their side of the river where we were able to tour at will through beautiful Camp Westwind, see displays of the history of that area, current ownership, and admire the lovely camp buildings and views of the ocean.

There were beach games for those who chose to participate and information on the salmon life cycle. Plus boat tours with a fish biologist on board to tell us about the life cycles of the five species of salmon that are found in the Salmon River, the story of the estuary that is being restored by removing dike after dike, and more. Our friend Nancy, a retired marine biologist from Hawaii, loved hearing from another fish biologist whose specialty is salmon. 

Back on the beach was a traditional fish weir and craftspeople and biologists who explained and demonstrated how it was constructed and how it worked... in the past for Native Americans to catch  salmon for eating and in the present for researchers to catch and tag and release salmon.

I did not take my camera, not wanting to get it wet or sandy, and Johnny didn't start taking photos until near the end of our day. The above photo of the weir was taken as our tour boat was coming back to shore. The salmon circle of people honoring the return of salmon had already started to form (in the background).

We hurried off the boat to join the circle around a speaker in the middle who talked about the importance of salmon to the ecosystem and to the people who dwell there... and to all of us who eat salmon. A speaker from the Siletz tribe explained the importance of salmon to Native Americans and their reverence for this very important fish. We each were given a small piece of salmon as we thanked the salmon for returning again to the river.

Then we broke out of the circle to feast on a wonderful meal of salmon, cooked in the traditional way, plus potato and green salads and more. Delicious!

This event was billed by the Westwind Stewardship Group as "the first annual" welcome home the salmon ceremony. We will certainly plan on attending again next year.

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