Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This week on SAMAQAN
Net laid out at the Preachers Eddy, Columbia River
Every year the salmon come back is a song composed and a print design of my good friend, Master Haida artist Robert Davidson, Guud San Glans and also known as Eagle of the Dawn. Each year the harvesting of salmon is a ritual in many first nations communities across Turtle Island and Robert has done his part to honor the food source. Human and salmon are intertwined.

Klickitat Falls 2011
In the first season of SAMAQAN we produced a story about the Columbia River fishery and how the tribes negotiated a treaty for salmon harvesting. The Columbia River is also used for hydro electricity and irrigation for the US Midwest. When a dozen dams were built in the mid-late 1950’s, the harnessing of water for energy robbed Canada of an important resource. The salmon could not swim past the largest three dams. 1000 miles of spawning beds, all of them in Canada, were left high and dry.
The historic fishing mecca, Celilo Falls near the Dalles dam, was inundated in 1957. The flooding of Kettle Falls when the Grand Coulee was built in 1940 preceded that.  This directly affected the people of the Okanagan Lakes area and our friends Tracey Kim Bonneau and her family. We spoke to Jeanette Armstrong in Penticton where the salmon are attempting a revival of some species. 
Setting the nets at the Preachers Eddy, Sherri Greene, Nez Perce

Although our people harvested salmon in many ways one of the most common modern day methods advocates the use of nets. Nets are used in a variety of ways. In ancient times people used natural fluctuations in water levels. Low tide weirs were common. And throughout the stretch of human development first nations have developed right along with everyone else. Today first nations are an integral part of commercial fishing. Special harvesting rights are entrenched in federal laws.
Adams River run photo by Ramsay Bourquin
 But will the salmon continue to return as they have throughout the millennium? Will we experience shortages in our salmon stocks? Are we guilty of over harvesting?

Adams River run photo by Ramsay Bourquin
This week’s episode of SAMAQAN is homage to the mighty resources of the Pacific Northwest, the Sockeye. In 2010 the famous Adams River Sockeye run returned with higher than expected numbers. The annual run peaks every four years and in 2014 the run is expected to equal the numbers of 2010. SAMAQAN has been holding on to most of the footage we gathered at the 2010 run until today. In tonight’s episode and throughout our website you will finds signs of the salmon.

Robert Davidson during filming of  "Abstract Edge".

To the artists, the fishing professionals and to the customary users of salmon we are very grateful for all that has been shared with the SAMAQAN crew. Of utmost importance is the way we use salmon. We store it in bottles, freeze filets and smoke most of our annual harvest. We try to make sure that there is a year’s supply, but never take more than we need. The entire crew of SAMAQAN is like this. Almost all of us were raised with salmon in our diets. We raise our hands to Every Year The Salmon Come Back.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Guest Blog from SAMAQAN Crew.

Ramsay Bourquin in Iskut
I was the production stills photographer on Samaqan: Water stories while covering 2012’s Tribal Journeys, and the Protocol was the culmination of a long pull for the many canoe families that traveled vast distances to reach this point (Olympia, Washington).  

I parked the van as the rest of the crew ran ahead to catch the action. Walking up to the protocol tent my hart was beating in excitement to witness something I’ve only heard about a few months before. The first thing you feel is the energy of the protocol grounds, smiling faces, art work, great food, laughs and the rumble of the drums reverberating from the massive protocol tent.

I entered the tent with a greeting from a welcoming Squaxin host and my camera ready. I stepped in to the past brought to the present by the honor, tradition, songs and dances of cultural protocol for the Paddle to Squaxin 2012. 

I cannot begin to tell of the importance of this annual event, but what I can say is that it is one of the most amazing cultural events hosted in North America. An event that makes sure the teachings and traditions of the many cultures along the Pacific North West gets handed down to the next generation.
 Here are some of the photos I took from the protocol Tent for the Paddle to Squaxin 2012.

Maori Contingent

Henare Tahuri

Alaska, Frank Nelson and Bella Bella

Vina Brown

Dawnda Joseph

Heiltsuk take the floor

I am from the Tahltan First Nations and grew up in the mountains of Northern British Colombia.  Our traditional songs and dances are slowly fading away, and in being surrounded by the culture of the coastal peoples so alive and well I was truly inspired.  Everyone should experience tribal Journeys.

Every song and every dance tells a story, the sharing of these stories during protocol is an experience no camera can truly capture. Shooting in the protocol tent was one of the most difficult shooting situations I have been in. Low mixed color temperature light with fast moving dancers, called for some quick thinking and missed shots. It was an amazing experience to be covering such a story with the Samaqan team, and one I will never forget.

Ramsay Bourquin

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

EP36 Landings

Tribal Journey’s BLOG
A Guest blog from Michael Bourquin
Camera and Sound for SAMAQAN

Michael Bourquin on location in Gulfport MS

Raised as a boats’ man in the interior of Northern British Columbia I was surrounded by lakes and rivers; so I find the ocean to be a little enigmatic and equally captivating. During the production of Water Stories season 3 I was fortunate enough to be the locations audio recorder at Squaxin 2012 during Tribal Journeys.

From up and down the West coast, Oregon, Washington, the coasts of British Columbia and points as far as Alaska; canoe families made the voyage to Squaxin to share and celebrate canoe culture. For me the most memorable experience with Tribal Journey’s would have to be the formality that surrounds the landings at the various host communities along the way.

When a canoe family paddles to shore, there is a song of greeting and a representative of that canoe will stand and make a formal introduction to explain who they are, where they are from and politely ask permission to come ashore to rest, eat and share in song and dance. Equally impressive was the welcoming songs of the host nation as they greeted the travel weary paddlers to shore to rest their bones and join in the feasting and celebration.

The final landing at Olympia was enormous! There were so many people. The size and scope of the Journey was much larger than I anticipated. It was nice to see the city of Olympia participating in the event and that everyone was welcome to join in the celebration. The spectators were abundant of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

I believe that there were over 100 canoes at the final landing; there was even a birch bark canoe from out East and a Maori Waka and crew from New Zealand. Being there for Squaxin 2012 was such a special treat, hearing the many songs of the paddlers, to witness and take part in the strong sense of community was empowering and uplifting. Tribal Journeys is an event I highly recommend whether spectator or participant especially if you reside on the West Coast it is a powerful healing experience.