State of Alaska's salmon and people: introduction to a special feature
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State of Alaska's salmon and people: introduction to a special feature

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  • Journal Title:
    Ecology and Society
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    The connection between salmon and people in Alaska runs deep. Few, if any, species on Earth have more profoundly shaped human culture and well-being than wild Pacific salmon, and in recent times, few species have been the center of more conflict. Despite wide-ranging migratory life histories, salmon connects people to place by returning with high fidelity to the streams of their birth. Origin stories, oral histories, art, songs, and customs illustrate the deep-time ties between salmon and Indigenous Peoples. Recent archaeological studies have provided complementary and consistent evidence that Alaska Native societies were harvesting salmon at least 11,000 years ago (Halffman et al. 2015). In just a few generations following colonization by western settlers, the landscape of relationships between people and salmon in Alaska transformed dramatically. Dominant Indigenous worldviews of salmon as sentient relatives deserving of respect and stewardship was in many ways usurped by western views of salmon as an economic commodity. Complex systems of Indigenous management, governed on a commitment between Tribes and the Creator, were suppressed, often violently, and eventually made invisible in a new dominant paradigm from the burgeoning field of western natural resource management: maximum-sustained yield, recruits and spawners, and density-dependence. Although much has changed in a small period, the connection between Alaskans and salmon has remained constant, though sometimes strained, and ever important.
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    Ecology and Society, 26(4)
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    CC BY
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