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ARCADIA, Wash. -- The public was invited to the Squaxin Island tribe's
First Salmon Ceremony Aug. 6 at Arcadia Point.

"The Squaxin people have always depended on salmon and we have always
honored them for sustaining us," Squaxin Vice Chairman Andy Whitener told
the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission magazine.

According to tradition, if the first salmon caught each season is treated
with respect, his spirit will return to the salmon village under the sea
where he will gather his relatives, tell them of the respect he was given
and lead them back to their home stream, the magazine wrote.

The First Salmon Ceremony commenced with drumming and singing of Salish
songs that welcomed the salmon. The first harvested salmon was carried on a
boat with a cedar-covered bow. When it reached shore, the salmon was
carefully carried up the beach on a cedar plate, where it is opened and its
spirit released. The remains, still surrounded by cedar, are returned to
the waters.

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"Every year we thank the salmon for coming back," Whitener told the
magazine. "In the same way that we welcome the first salmon of the season,
we should also protect their home -- the rivers and streams -- so they will
always come back. For years, the salmon have taken care of our needs, now
it is time to take care of theirs."