Alaska's Salmon Culture
Salmon is the real gold rush in The Last Frontier. The Alaskan salmon culture is a story of hope. Often represented in carved totem poles, it is a symbol of abundance, renewal, fertility and dependability. Northwest Native Americans have relied on the fish as a food source and spiritual representation for thousands of years. Despite a turbulent history, including near extinction, today, salmon are treated with the utmost respect. Traditionally, one ceremonial fish is caught early in the spring, blessed, eaten and every piece of the remaining carcass returned to the sea in the belief that the spirit will rise again completing the cycle of life. Only then can the official fishing season begin. Visiting a salmon hatchery brought the reality of the salmon culture to life.
By Alison Abbott, AFAR Local Expert