Salmon, 1978

This is a photo of me at Paschal Sherman Indian School, helping prepare salmon for the Sunflower Festival. My memory is hazy and I don’t remember anything about the before & after of this photo. I’m glad I have it, no idea who took it. That’s Carol Edwards behind me, one of the leaders of the school. She’s flicking ashes from her cigarette. We are in the kitchen with all the clean tableware on shelves.

The school had been a mission boarding school (St. Mary’s Mission) but had been renamed and turned over to tribal control in 1973. The school is on the Colville Reservation in Omak, central Washington State. I was working as a volunteer dorm parent for the 7th and 8th grade girls, my first year out of college. Boy, I had a lot to learn. I was way over my head.

Margery’s post Dreaming of Salmon reminded me of this photo, so I decided to find it and put it online. Maybe it’s too gruesome, since the magnificent fish is headless. But there was a rightness about it, as salmon belongs to the native foodways there. Maybe we were fileting it for smoking? I wish I knew where the salmon came from. Maybe the Columbia River?

6 Responses

  1. Marti says:

    What a big salmon! In the 70’s, my sister worked for the Dept of Fish and Wildlife in WA and learned to smoke salmon using alder wood. To this day, I have never tasted smoked salmon as delicious as hers.

    • Catherine says:

      My brother-in-law (no longer in touch, long story) is native and smoked us some salmon once – so delicious.

  2. Nancy says:

    Thanks for the link to Margery’s post.
    Love this old photo. There is something so comforting about seeing that era, which one can always tell/feel by the clothing, hair and coloration of the film pics…even if the great Salmon has no head!

    • Catherine says:

      I think today’s digital revolution will take away some of the pleasure of old photos on paper. I like them too.

  3. Mo Crow says:

    Wow that’s a Big Fish!

    • Catherine says:

      It is big! I don’t remember well, but I think there were numerous big fish processed that day.

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