Embark on a Journey of Renewal: Salmon Ceremony Oral Histories Revealed in Interactive Exhibit
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Event date and time: Arts Alive, Saturday April 6 from 6pm to 9pm Location: Humboldt County Visitors Bureau, 422 1st St, Eureka Event organizer: Humboldt Area Peoples Archive

BAYSIDE, Calif. - Californer -- The Humboldt Area Peoples Archive announces the grand opening of its exhibit Salmon Ceremony Oral Histories at 6:00PM, April 6th at the Humboldt County Visitors Bureau at 422 1st St in Eureka. This exhibit invites visitors to delve into the intricate interplay between activism, environmental stewardship, and cultural collaboration. The evening will commence with special speeches by Nicole Riggs, Executive Director of the Humboldt Area Peoples Archive, and Ruth Wortman, Cultural Coordinator with the Bear River Band, promising an unforgettable experience for all attendees. This exhibit explores the revitalization of the Salmon Ceremony by the Bear River Band at the mouth of the Mattole River in Petrolia. The Bear River Band consists of seven federally recognized tribes: Wiyot, Nongatl, Whilkut, Sinkiyone, Lassic, Bear River, and Mattole.

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The exhibit includes the voices of Ruth Wortman and Barry Brenard, Cultural Coordinators for the Bear River Band, speaking about the meaning of the Salmon Ceremony which existed for generations before falling away in 1958 during the termination era. In recent decades, the Bear River Band has taken steps to revitalize its culture.

Since 1980, the Mattole Salmon Group, a local environmental nonprofit, has been working in the river to restore salmon habitat and populations which were negatively impacted from exploitative land management. They realized early on that in order to bring the salmon back from the brink of extinction for all peoples, there was a need to combine the spiritual connection of the indigenous people with Salmon together with science-based habitat and population enhancement activities they conducted.

In 2021, a collaborative effort developed between the Bear River Band and the Mattole Salmon Group, leading to the revitalization of the Salmon Ceremony. Every year in the fall, wild Mattole chinook and coho salmon migrate into the river to spawn when the river breaches the sand bar, generally in November.  In April, steelhead salmon come in to spawn.  At both times, juvenile salmon make their way into the ocean to mature for several years.  Both events are celebrated in the Bear River Band Salmon Ceremony.

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The Humboldt Area Peoples Archive developed the interactive exhibit in collaboration with the Bear River Band, Stacy Schaefer PhD, Ai Iwane, the Mattole Salmon Group and the Humboldt County Visitors Bureau. The exhibit is open Tuesday to Friday 12PM-4PM through June 30. The Humboldt Area Peoples Archive (HAPA) collects, preserves and shares histories of change in Humboldt from the 1960s to now. Visit https://humboldtareaarchive.org/

Nicole Riggs, E.D. Humboldt Area Peoples Archive

Source: Humboldt Area Peoples Archive

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