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Honoring First Salmon

Apr 1, 2013

Salmon feast on the Umatilla Reservation

Plates of salmon ready to be served at a First Salmon feast on the Umatilla Reservation.

One of the Columbia River tribes’ most important ceremonies is the First Salmon Feast. This salmon ceremony occurs before open fishing takes place. It is why every fishing season begins with a ceremonial harvest for fishers to catch salmon for use in these ceremonies. The timing of these feasts matches the arrival of the salmon to each longhouse.

The feasts honor Salmon for being the first to volunteer when Creator asked all the plants and animals for a gift to help humans survive.

In accordance with this sacrifice, salmon are honored each year upon their return. The ceremony always begins with a blessing and drinking of water, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving and the serving of the salmon. This ceremony reinforces the central role that salmon and water play in the health and culture of the tribal people in the Columbia Basin.

This year, the Lyle Longhouse feast will be on April 7 and the Celilo Longhouse feast will be on April 14. For feasts at other longhouses, check the CRITFC Calendar.