Scale and Organization in Traditional Salmon Fishing: Insights from Ancient Technology of the Upper Columbia River

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Three generations ago the Upper Columbia River salmon fishery was eradicated by the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam and flooding of Lake Franklin D. Roosevelt. Fortunately, the vivid memories and oral traditions of Elders from the Spokane Tribe of Indians and the constituent tribes of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (the Wenatchee, the Moses-Columbia, the Nez Perce, the Okanagans, the Lakes, the Sanpoils, the Nespelems, the Methow, the Palus, the Colville, the Entiat, and the Chelan) endure. Their detailed narratives describe important characteristics of traditional fishing (Pouley 2008:6). Numerous scientists and resource managers have been working to save salmon from extinction (Knudsen et al. 2000; Lackey et al. 2006; Levin and Schiewe 2001; National Research Council 1996; Stouder et al. 1997). Integral to that effort is the realization that traditional Native American use of fish is key to understanding the factors influencing the deep history of the salmon fishery (Butler and O'Connor 2004; Cone 1995; Lichatowich 1999). This is part of a global trend in which descendant communities, scientists, heritage managers, and policy makers are working together to incorporate indigenous knowledge about resource management into policy and procedures (U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 2002).