, 2023-01-01 03:04:24,
Through millennia of lava flows and erosive flooding in the Columbia Basin, a river arose. The Snake River twists about a thousand miles from Wyoming through southern Idaho, forming the border with Oregon before curving into southeastern Washington, where its waters meet the Columbia River and then eventually the ocean. Travel from the Rocky Mountains through the desert, dotted with prey.
A river is not a body, but people have always seen a resemblance. It has a head (waters), veins and arteries. Salmon enter the Snake River the same as nutrients for a living being: through the mouth. After swimming miles from the Pacific Ocean to the frigid waters from which they came, they spawn and die, leaving empty-eyed carcasses floating on the river bank. Studies have shown how dead salmon contribute to the abundance and diversity of a region’s birds, the richness of the soil, the greenness of a forest canopy. The deep intertwining of salmon with the ecosystem beyond the banks is something the Nez Perce Tribe has always known. But partly because of the dams, “that spin of nutrients that should be flowing back and forth stops,” said Shannon Wheeler, vice chair of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. High Country News last fall.
The river is changing, its salmon populations on the brink of extinction and drought depleting its waters, its lifeblood, as well as the crops in its basin. And for decades, people…
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