Eight Northwest leaders attend Chinook’s First Salmon Ceremony

CHINOOK, Wash. – A hereditary chief, five chairpersons and two past chairpersons were among the honored guests at the Chinook Nation’s annual First Salmon Ceremony, June 18 at Chinook Point (Fort Columbia State Park).

Several Northwest Coast Native nations host first salmon ceremonies to honor the first salmon of the season. In addition, the honored guests at the ceremony had the honor of being the first to ride in a large canoe, “Itswoot” (the black bear), gifted to Chinook’s chairman last winter.

The event was particularly significant to four of the nations represented – Chinook, Duwamish, Snohomish and Steilacoom – because they are fighting to restore their government-to-government relationship with the United States and regain their status as treaty signatory tribes. Each has an elected government, provides services for its members, participates in cultural projects, education and outreach, and maintains cultural centers and/or museums.

Restoration bills are pending in Congress.

Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@rockisland.com.