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Chief Salmon

Chief Salmon

Ntityix – Chief Salmon

Chief Salmon is the “Chief for all creatures in the water.” Salmon and trout have always been incredibly important parts of the Okanagan diet, providing much of the essential proteins and amino acids for the people. Smoked salmon was particularly critical over the long, cold winter months, and the annual return of the salmon every fall was a time of celebration.

As one of the Four Food Chiefs, ntityix represents the virtues of perseverance and hard work. Like the salmon that swims against the current to give his life for the next generation, people also swim against the current of life to provide for their family and community.

While Bear represents governance, Chief Salmon represents the economy. Even the modern economy mimics the cyclical nature of a salmon’s life. The ups and downs in the economy are seasonal and normal; they cause us to persevere or prosper, but we must always keep the end goals in mind.

In the Okanagan mind, the economic cycle is not centred on the individual, for the individual will die just like the salmon, and must pass on wealth and resources to the next generation, and to the community as a whole. Collective involvement in the economy generates employment and a livelihood for all, and allows the community to prosper, while selfishness and lack of care for the economy creates poverty and division.

In the Okanagan, the relationship with Chief Salmon was tragically broken when the European settlers proceeded to dam the rivers, preventing salmon from returning to the Okanagan Lake basin. It is only recently, thanks to the Penticton Indian Band’s work to re-establish salmon in the Penticton River channel that salmon have returned to this territory.

 

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