Puget Sound Salmon - Cultural Significance

Cultural Significance

Salmon are cultural icons in the Pacific Northwest. Specifically, Puget Sound is home to thousands of invertebrate species, 200 species of fish, 100 species of sea birds, and 26 kinds of marine mammals. Of all these species, salmon and killer whales are the most iconic and culturally relevant to the Native American tribes within the Pacific Northwest region. Salmon are born in streams than head to the sea as juveniles. After spending a few years in the ocean, they return to their birth streams in order to spawn (reproduce). Historically, Puget Sound was one of the most salmon-filled regions evident from the bountiful salmon-bearing streams that essentially had an unlimited supply of salmon. Consequently, due to the expansion of urban development salmon populations are dwindling due to the deterioration of salmon and their crucial habitats. Holistically, the sharp decline in salmon can also be attributed to the decline of killer whales in the region. These killer whales rely heavily on healthy population of salmon and other fish in the region but are left starving to death because of the declining fish population caused from human pollution and urban development.

Historically, the connection between salmon and the native tribes in Puget Sound run deep within the Puget Sound Community. The Pacific Northwest region provides an exceptionally rich and nurturing environment for salmon. Salmon play a critical role in the survival of the local economy and culture for the indigenous people that make up the Pacific Northwest. Over the last 1500 years, an equilibrium has been forged between the delicate balance of salmon and human ecosystems. Historically, harvest rate and fish losses were only attributed to natural phenomena and indigenous fishing practices. Consequently, a new phenomenon has wreaked havoc and ruined the delicate balance between salmon and humans. In the 19th century, the sudden arrival of early pioneers and entrepreneurs to the region caused havoc through the monumental changes in the amount of fishing taking place and the vast technological advances of fishing equipment to catch unprecedented salmon numbers. The addition of a new market-driven industrial economy has also provided new vulnerabilities for the Pacific Northwest’s salmon runs, causing environmentalists to think up new and creative ways to save the Puget Sound Salmon. The connection between salmon and the Native American tribes within the Pacific Northwest portray a deep relationship forged through many generations. Human society is a direct threat to this cultural icon, and people must work on a holistic level to join forces within the legislature to save these cultural icons for many generations to come.

Read more about this topic:  Puget Sound Salmon

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