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Native American Salmon Mythology

Salmon are an extremely important animal to both the lifestyle and the spirituality of many Native American cultures, especially the tribes of the Northwest Coast and the Columbia River. Like buffalo, salmon willingly give themselves up as food for humans in many Northwest Native American myths, and therefore these fish hold a special position of honor and respect. There are many taboos and other tribal rules regarding salmon, so as to avoid offending them, and special Salmon Dances and First Salmon Ceremonies are celebrated at the beginning of salmon fishing season throughout the Pacific Northwest region. In Native American artwork and literature, salmon are often used as a symbol of determination, renewal, and prosperity.

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Salmon are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Salmon Clans include the Tlingit and Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl) tribes. On the Northwest Coast, the salmon is often used as a totem pole crest.

Native American Salmon Gods and Spirits

Salmon Boy (Northwest Coast)

Native American Legends About Salmon

Glooscap and the Giant Beavers:
    Mi'kmaq story of how the culture hero Glooscap restored salmon to the Restigouche River.
Squamish Salmon Story:
    Northwest Coast myth about four Transformer brothers who brought salmon to the people.
Legend of the Lost Salmon:
    Northwest Indian Salmon legend about the importance of respecting nature and the traditional ways.
Salmon Boy:
    Haida legend about a boy who becomes one of the Salmon People.

Recommended Books of Salmon Stories from Native American Myth and Legend
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First Fish, First People:
    Fascinating collection comparing indigenous salmon myth and literature from North America and Asia.
Salmon Boy:
    Good children's book telling a Northwest Coast legend about respecting the salmon.
The Girl Who Swam With The Fish:
    A modern retelling of an Alaskan Athabaskan legend about a child who turns into a salmon spirit.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about salmon and other animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

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