Living from the heart/land.

The Salmon Bring Us Together

The Salmon Bring Us Together

I spent some time on the Kenai Peninsula in June, learning about Alaska’s fisheries from the people (and nonhumans) that rely on them. What did I find around almost every bend in the stream?


On their spawning redds, piled up where they can go no farther, salmon together, creating more salmon.

Also on the redds? Brown bears clawing, toothing, chewing for their next generation.

Downstream a distance, people in groups of friends or family, snagging, pulling and knifing for the delicious food with a story. Or some other reason, like the woman from Ecuador I spoke with, who was along for someone else’s adventure but would rather be at the bed and breakfast, sipping wine.

Down and down, gulls and ravens clawing/tearing/swallowing whatever the people and bears have sent downstream.

The salmon, they bring us together — birds, bears, people, ravens. They have helped us for so many generations. And now, within this summer in Alaska, alone, some of the most reliable runs of cohos, kings, and reds are going belly up. The situation is too complex to hang on any single thing, but we can be sure: their survival depends on us, and the ecosystem’s survival depends on them. We can switch over to soy beans or chicken — brown bears can’t.

We have to come together on their behalf, and soon.