First Salmon Ceremony

Jim Peters traditionally cooks Chinook at the Squaxin First Salmon Ceremony.  Photo by Emmett O'Connell-NWIFC

Jim Peters traditionally cooks Chinook at the Squaxin First Salmon Ceremony. Photo by Emmett O'Connell-NWIFC

Shelton Mason County Journal Video Slide Show

The First Salmon – As  told by Cecil Cheeka

Once there was a little boy, and he loved salmon. He played with salmon and he swam with salmon. Finally the salmon people decided to take him home with them. He wanted to go, so they took him to the land where the salmon people live.

He lived there for several months or maybe even years. The boy began to get homesick, so the salmon people agreed to take the boy back to visit his family. The salmon people knew they were coming for two reasons – to bring the little boy back to his family and to bring them food. Messages were sent so the family would know what time of year the salmon people were coming.

And so they prepared real carefully, cleaning the streams and cleaning the beaches, preparing for the salmon boy and the salmon people to come. The family had the ferns and the moss all ready and waiting. And they caught the first salmon, cleaned him real carefully, made sure everything was taken care of real nice, and then cooked the salmon.

But before they cooked the salmon, they took the skeleton, very carefully and very ceremoniously, back down to the beach. They placed the skeleton upstream to show the direction for the rest of the salmon people who were bringing the boy back for a visit. The message was clear that the family of the boy was taking very good care of the salmon that were coming back.

Every year they still come back to visit and it is very important for us to make sure that they are welcome, taken care of and everything is waiting for them, including clean beaches and streams.

Update on Summer 2009 Oakland Bay Water Quality

 Joe in UOB

State and Tribal scientists use fecal bacteria (FC) as an indicator of water pollution in Oakland Bay.  In 2006 during the summer months, the bacteria concentration in the water column at the head of Oakland Bay skyrocketed and restricted commercial harvest in some shellfish beds.  In in the first half of the summer of 2009, the concentrations are much lower, in spite of the hot weather we have had and a massive die-off of clams earlier in the year.  That’s good news for the Tribe, the shellfish industry and the greater community.


The low fecal bacteria concentrations in the water column are not matched by lower concentrations in or on the intertidal sediment.  Sediment bacteria concentrations are running higher this year than in 2007 or 2008.  But for some reason, the bacteria are not being resuspended into the water column.  This resuspension often occurs when wind speed exceeds 5 mph from the southwest creating extensive wave action in the upper bay that stirs up the bacteria-laden sediment. 


At the end of the summer, we will analyze more data including wind speed and direction to try and explain this year’s fecal bacteria counts.