Fishing and Tribes

Photo Credit: Scott Butner

For thousands of years, fishing has been a large part of Native American religion, culture, and has been an important source of food. Fish also play an important role in our ecosystem by returning ocean nutrients to the rivers they return home to.

Here are some ways fish impact Indian Country:

  • Salmon are part of spiritual and cultural identity for many tribes throughout the United States.
  • The annual salmon return symbolizes the renewal and continuation of human and all other life for many tribes.
  • Historically, Natives were wealthy peoples because of a flourishing trade economy based on salmon.
  • In many regions, fishing is still the preferred livelihood for some tribal members.
  • Salmon are indicator species: As water becomes degraded and fish population’s decline, so too will the elk, deer, roots, berries and medicines that sustain us.
  • As a primary food source for thousands of years, salmon continue to be an essential source of nutrition for tribal communities.
  • Because our tribal populations are growing, the need for salmon are greater than ever.
  • Salmon celebrations allow the transfer of traditional values from generation to generation.

If you’re interested in getting involved in your community, reach out to your tribe’s Natural Resources department and ask to learn about the science and lifecycle of fish in your area and how your community is working the field.

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