Orange fish in the ocean - photo by Hiroko Yoshii - photo by Hiroko Yoshii

The Great Salmon Tour: An Introduction

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By exploring the relationship between salmon and myriad human cultures, the Great Salmon Tour documents how the loss of a natural resource dramatically affects the diversity of our planet and our common cultural heritage.

Though the concept of biodiversity and ecosystem preservation has found its way into mainstream media and public awareness, it continues to be an abstract concept for most people. Unfortunately, with loss of biodiversity comes the loss of aspects of our own cultural and historical heritage – and not in an abstract way. The link between biological and cultural diversity is shaped through the vast variety of approaches to human-environment relationships that has developed across the world’s diverse cultures. In no other species is this relationship more evident than in that between salmon species and humans.

An example is how the abundance of salmon along the North American Northwest shaped the socioeconomic and spiritual life of Native American tribes from California to Alaska. However, the decreasing numbers of Pacific salmon have diminished the importance of this fish in the daily lives of tribes in California, Oregon and Washington. In Alaska, however, Chinook salmon still return to their natal rivers in large numbers, and therefore the fish still plays an integral part in the flow of life of many Native American communities there. Seasonal salmon subsistence fisheries still shape the social organization of the Tanana Village community located along the Yukon River. It also provides food security for this community.

Faith Peters at the Tanana Village Administrative Tribal Center is a quiet and soft-spoken Athabascan woman. She is also a fisherwoman with deep roots in the Athabascan culture and subsistence fishing. With her mild demeanor and a true passion for her people and culture, she agreed to an interview – seen here – about the fisheries and the lives of the people in Tanana Village and how the two are forever intertwined.

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