Louie Pitt: Last Moments of a Salmon, to “Protect Her Future”

Louie Pitt (Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs) talks about seeing a female salmon die.

Bio: Louie Pitt works for the Warm Springs tribe in Governmental Relations. Louie Pitt works to continue traditional culture education opportunities, and advocates for treaty rights and protection of natural resources. He is the brother of artist Lillian Pitt.


One day I was up there, I saw that. Probably my twentieth, thirtieth,¬† time I had seen this scene before where an old hen, a female salmon, I just sat down on this stump to watch this fish, the salmon, and the two bucks were already dead and there was a third one probably down below. Three to one ratio we learned in fisheries. Anyway, this hen, the mother of the this red, about ten feet long and maybe five feet wide, nest where the eggs were planted, that she planted. And then those three guys, those three bucks, fertilized. Well to what I thought was her last breath, when I got close to the red, she came up and tried to get in my way. No, no, don’t. Then she’d dropped over and float down the river, then she’d come back up and try to defend her nest again. Then finally for the last time she floated down and she didn’t move. And oh, for some reason or another that really go to me. I cried for maybe twenty minutes. The question really was; am I doing enough? In my life. And our we doing enough? ’cause that lady gave it everything she had and that’s her red. And there was like fifteen redds in that area, so it’s my job to protect those areas, okay. So I still go with the spiritual strength of that what we call it epiphany or whatever it is and anyway I still go with the power of that mythicism has the same type of effect on people. It really drives me, that for at least a little while I understood the real spirit of that fish that just died before my eyes. Her last moments were to protect her future. Amazing.

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