For 12,000 years, the Indigenous people of Alaska have been intrinsically linked with salmon. To these communities, the fish has served as a food source as well as a deep part of the culture.
Over millennia, many tribes created deeply sophisticated systems of stewardship in order to maintain the salmon’s natural habitat. These techniques relied on a respect for the fish and a value system that treated salmon as non-human kin. The logic went that if salmon were mistreated they may not return year after year.
Sign up for the Cook's Country Dinner Tonight newsletter
10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.
As Europeans colonized Alaska in the 18th century, they brought with them a different view of human-animal relations, one that was based on humans dominating other animal species. Those views began to and continue to inform fishing policy and management in the region.
Cook’s Country’s Editor in Chief Toni Tipton-Martin explains in the video below how this impacted traditional ways of fishing and how people are fighting to bring back traditional Indigenous practices as part of a wider effort to restore the natural balance in our food systems.