What is Salmon Nation?

Salmon Nation

Salmon Nation is the region along the west coast of North America historically inhabited by wild salmon.

From the Sacramento River in Central California up into Alaska, salmon — and their habitat — have defined this region.

In recent decades, most of these salmon runs have declined, many of them precipitously. A top wildlife manager in Washington State once said to me that the salmon are failing because we’ve changed their habitat in ways that are forcing them to live in conditions outside of their evolutionary experience.

The Portland, Oregon-based non-profit Ecotrust created the Salmon Nation meme, as a way for people in the region to identify with the iconic fish and be inspired to make the changes in how we live our lives that are necessary for the salmon to survive.

Because we need what the salmon need. And a world in which salmon cannot survive is a world in which we won’t long survive, either.

As poet Tom Jay once said, “We think we need to do this to save the salmon. We really need to do it to save ourselves.”

2 Responses to What is Salmon Nation?

  1. Eliza Murphy says:

    more than a nation/ a religion/ this hatching from an egg/ — nest of gravel/ you, born knowing/ how to swim / find yr way to sea & back
    take forest to salt water/ dodge maws / thrust home / through shadows / up waterfalls / climb ladders / return, return
    lay eggs / spread seed/ die in bear claws/ talons of an osprey/ bits of flesh gobbled by raccoon/ eaten by sparrow/ yr minerals enrich their cells/ yr essence returns, returns/ seeds take up/ the gift you returned
    yr meat/ holy stuff
    when i take you in my mouth/ i engulf a sacrament/ taste religion on my tongue/
    thank you, salmon

  2. Ken says:


    At the turn of the tide
    when the great heron hunts
    and the sea is diluted by tears,
    we will turn and upstream swim
    to the altar of clear waters.

    The silver thieveries of the sleepless rain
    in prawn shell and herring scale
    seized in black-lipped bony mouths
    brought home the only way we know – as flesh

    offered up to the ravenous trees,
    our part of the ancient pact;
    the lives we will not live to see
    will be cherished by a forest grown
    on salmon flesh and salmon bone.


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