leisure based of native cultures in North America. When Lewis and Clark arrived at Celilo Falls, one single salmon gathering spot on the Columbia River, they estimated between 6 and 10,000 people were engaged in an assembly line process of catching, cleaning, splitting, drying, pounding into powder, and storing Pemmican (dried salmon) in vast underground storage vaults by the TONS. The Celilo controlling tribes were so impressed by the strange whites that they said, barely looking up from their bartering with coastal, mountain, northern, southern, and high plains tribes, in effect, "take a ticket".
The conundrum is, of course, that they all die. Every single last one of them. The moment they enter fresh water, they are doomed. They metamorphose from a gleaming silver missle to a rotting, grotesquely jawed and toothed pugnacious, single minded gravel digging, egg laying and sperm squirting caricature of a fish. Whatever obstacles present themselves they will, driven by the genetic fact of themselves as evidence that their parents were able to overcome, throw themselves onto and into every danger, net, club, claw, practicing survival tactics only for the purpose of getting closer to the spawning gravel before death.
They are, at the end, truly the living-dead, fish so battered and rotted that you would believe that if you lifted the fish by the tail and shook it, all the flesh would fall away. And you would believe if somehow it still managed to wiggle into the water to continue.

In the end, the salmon provided people with not just food, but lingering questions of the meaning, the purpose of life itself, the meaning and purpose of death. We are fascinated with them.
There are those that argue, as we now face spending millions upon millions of dollars in an attempt to undue what we have done to their habitat, their water flows, because the salmon will not change, they will not adapt, they only know one suicidal way, that salmon ARE the Northwest, that without them we have lost everything that ties us to the still beating pulse of this land.
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