The Tulalip Indian Reservation sits on the east side of the Puget Sound, about 40 miles north of Seattle, Washington, where the change in seasons is marked by the arrival and departure of salmon. At the heart of the reservation is Tulalip Bay, where salmon return every spring and fall before swimming upstream to spawn.
In tribal folklore, the Tulalip people are descended from salmon. As Cary Williams, who works at the tribe’s cultural center, tells the story, the ancient salmon saw people walking on land and wanted to become human. When they asked the grandfather salmon to give them human form, he granted their wish and told them, “I will take care of you, but you must take care of me.”
But it has become increasingly difficult for the Tulalip people to care for the salmon. Since the 1980s, wild Pacific salmon have faced a sharp decline due to overfishing, habitat loss and pollution, leaving several local populations threatened or endangered. Now, climate change is further imperiling the fish.