“My First Time of Holding Salmon Fish”

Say, a Civil Society Development Professional Fellow, YSEALI 2016

Secret Historical behind of Saving Salmon for young generation of tribal group in Idaho

November 1st, 2016, my team and I (Houng and Will) together went to Idaho State which located about 274 miles from Missoula and took us about 4 hours for driving there. Here we got a chance to see Clear Water Hatchery those who work to help spawning eggs for Salmon in Clean Water Rivers. Here I got a chance to hold a very large Salmon Fish. I felt happy as this was my first time hold the Salmon. You will be happy too when you got a chance to hold a big Salmon in your hand. But, let me share you a secret history to let Salmon exist in Clear Water Rivers. Believe me, it was not easy, it took time so long and uncountable struggling of the tribes here to keep Salmon alive till today.

Idaho is well known as a home of tribes who has been living there for 11,000 years such as Kootenai, Kalispel, Coeur d’ Alene, Palouse, Nez Perce, Northern Paiute, Shoshone – Bannock. Their live has been strongly connected to natural resource surround them and they take benefit from those resources in sustainable way. They make their living with hunting, growing crops and fishing.

There was no longer, hydropower dams were built on the Clear Water River which caused negative impact to riparian and changed the river ecology and caused to fish declined, all these had been affected to all tribal groups. Salmon was very common fish for tribal fishing. One of those dams was Dworshak Dam which is the third tallest dam in the United State (219 meters high), and was built in 1973. There were other eight hydropower dams has been built downstream of Dworshak dam on the same Clear Water River. All of these dams had been causing negative impacts to tribal people.

The tribal groups were realizing its impact and they all together to stand up to fight on these dams by negotiate with company and government of the United State. The main purpose and most success negotiation was to keep Salmon exist in their river which their people able to catch fish as they used to be in the past. Numbers of campaigns were organized and uncountable complaint letter and law suit has been done in their struggling. Whatever happened, the tribal group never gave up. They spent 50 years, finally their struggling was not waste, and they success in their negotiation. The government was agreed with fully funded them to start fish hatchery to save Salmon. Forty one fish were recorded in first fish counted in 2001 by hatchery station and now (2016) there were 60,000 fish has been founded in Clear Water River, so amazing!

“Building more people and raise same voice will lead us to successes as today,” said of a tribal member. This saying was taking my mind to remember of Cambodian elder used to say that “one chopstick is easy to break but it’s hard to break a bunch of chopstick.” This all are totally about networking and public involvement.

Now, tribal group can access to fishery as normal in Clear Water River and I do hope that, they will use their fish and natural resources very sustainable way to keep for their young generation. Thanks to all ancestor of tribal group in Idaho, because of your hard work and struggling, allow a thin Cambodian man as I am able to hold a big Salmon fish from Clear Water River.



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