Northwest imagery is hooked on salmon

first_imgAn iconic fish that has sustained Northwest families for thousands of years has become a popular source of artistic inspiration.Images of salmon highlight the two most prominent art installations built in Vancouver’s historic core in the last dozen years.“Salmon is a spiritual resource for us,” said Lillian Pitt, whose tribally inspired artwork is part of the Land Bridge at Fort Vancouver.Jim Demetro doesn’t share Pitt’s lineage, but he appreciates the salmon’s role in Northwest tribal heritage.“Their culture revolved around salmon. To portray that, to tell that narrative, is extremely important,” the Battle Ground sculptor said. His bronze chinook are part of the Salmon Run Bell Tower in Esther Short Park.But the arching, muscular shape of the salmon also graces more humble municipal fixtures: they’re on city manhole covers and pressed into a concrete wall along a downtown street.It all adds to the sense of place for people who live along the Columbia River. It’s something that was bred into Pitt, whose family represents Yakama, Warm Springs and Wasco tribes.“I’m Native American, and we have been fishing for salmon for thousands of years,” Pitt said.“We had salmon feasts: giving thanks to salmon, for giving its life to keep us sustained. And, it was our economic resource. People came from all over to trade for our salmon,” Pitt said.She remembers watching men catch salmon at Celilo Falls, a major Columbia River fishing site before it was inundated in 1957 by construction of The Dalles Dam.last_img

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