Outdoors blog

Sacred Salmon Ceremony set for May 26

Salmon River, Idaho. (Wapiti River Guides)
Salmon River, Idaho. (Wapiti River Guides)

SALMON FISHING -- Dorey boat fishing guides and elders of the Nez Perce Tribe will row around a big eddy on May 26 and pray for a safe return of spring chinook to the Salmon River during the 11th annual Sacred Salmon Ceremony and Friendship Feast near Riggins, Idaho.

The event will be based out of the Spring Bar Campground, 10 miles upstream from Riggins. The ceremony starts at 2 p.m. A circle ceremony will be followed by a potluck dinner, said Gary Lane, owner of Wapiti Outfitters.

By the way, the spring chinook are moving into the salmon on their upstream migration, with fish showing up in the Rapid River Hatchery traps.

Read on for details on the colorful Sacred Salmon event.

WHERE: Spring Bar Campground & Boat Ramp @ 2pm (mountain time) – Upriver of Riggins 12 miles is the ancient Nez Perce camping, fishing, and gathering grounds. This is the time and location of our annual welcome to the Salmon Nation for returning to our area. It is a bi-cultural event to celebrate the fish coming back to their ancestral waters. Included is a riverside native salmon ceremony, sacred boat circle with drummers and singers, an inclusive salmon “talk circle,” and potluck feast immediately afterward with Nez Perce Elder & Tribal Leader Horace Axtell.

The precession is very colorful and moving. It is an event that is family oriented, so kids are most welcome, since they are the next torch carriers of our respect for the natural world. All relationships in nature are reciprocal. If we forget to show our appreciation for the Kings ( or Big Fish), they may forget to show up in the future to fulfill their gifting. There is more to fishing than just fishing.

The Ceremony: Horace Axtell, a Nez Perce Elder spiritual leader, will rally people of today and unite them to the land, water, fish, wildlife, and ancient peoples who imbue this enchanted land with the power of place and interconnected songs of the earth. He will officiate the ceremony with the traditional bell & drum ceremony...

Sacred Boat Circle: A lead wooden dory with Nez Perce drummers and singers, followed by a parade of additional craft will circle the Spring Bar Salmon Eddy in a sacred manner. Everyone is welcome to bring their own boat or raft and participate.

Potluck Friendship Feast: Wild game (if available) fish (if available) food, and drink will conclude the event and give people a chance to relax, visit and share stories. Bring any kind of food (wild when possible) and drink, aside from alcohol. This is a non-alcoholic event. Please bring your own plates & eating utensils if you plan to stay for the pot luck. Please bring your lawn chair with you. Wapiti River Guides will supply the tables to put the food on... You may bring whatever type of food you like to share at the potluck, but if you plan to participate please at least bring something, even if its chips & dip....... In some of the past potlucks we have had people decide to stay and we didn't have enough food to go around..

And please out of respect for others attending leave your pets at home if possible.. if you must bring them please have them on a leash, or leave them in your vehicle..

Directions: Spring Bar, upriver of Riggins about 12 miles. Turn east off the main highway south of Riggins. Cross the Little Salmon River, then follow the main Salmon River until you get to Spring Bar, about 12 miles... (Major Forest Service Campground with restroom facilities, parking & Boat Ramp.) Potluck tables will be set up just upstream of the boat ramp...

Local attractions: Nez Perce Tribal Members will be dip net fishing at Rapid River and Little Salmon River. There is also shoreline Salmon Fishing on the Little and Big Salmon Rivers.

For more information: call Gary & Barb Lane at 208-628-3523




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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