Salmon (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: The abundance of salmon in predictable spawning runs made them a critical food resource on the Northwest Coast
Salmon frequent the oceans off both coasts of North America, but Pacific salmon have had the greatest significance to American Indians. Pacific salmon (Oncorhyncus) are of five species: pink, chum, coho, sockeye, and chinook. All are anadromous, living primarily in the ocean and returning to fresh water to spawn. During those spawning runs, huge numbers of salmon surge upstream and can be caught with ease, usually with nets, weirs, or traps, but sometimes with spears, clubs, or even the hands.
Salmon transformed the Northwest Coast Indian way of life. All salmon spawn primarily in the fall, though chinook spawn almost year-round. Indians began coming to falls and rapids to capture salmon at least by 4000 b.c.e. By 1000 b.c.e. huge quantities of salmon were being caught, then dried and smoked for use throughout the year. Carrying the store of salmon through seasonal movements was no longer practical. Villages became fixed at or near good fishing spots, sometimes with a single year-round village, sometimes with separate winter and summer villages. Prosperity derived from salmon translated...
(The entire section is 261 words.)
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