WSSNWild Salmon & Steelhead News is published monthly by the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition. Read on to learn about the Columbia-Snake River Basin’s endangered wild salmon and steelhead, the many benefits they deliver to people and ecosystems, and the extinction crisis they face today - unless we act! Find out how SOS is helping lead efforts to restore health, connectivity, and resilience to the rivers and streams these fish depend upon in the Columbia-Snake Basin and how you can get involved to help restore healthy, abundant, and harvestable populations and sustain more just and prosperous communities. To learn more and/or get involved, contact Martha Campos.

Table of Contents

1. Biden Administration: 'Tribal Circumstances Analysis' highlights historic and ongoing negative impacts of Columbia River dams to Tribal communities.
2. 'Hot Water Report' for the Lower Snake and Columbia Rivers is now available
3. 'All Our Relations: Tribute to the Orca' in Seattle elevates Indigenous voices and the need to re-imagine our relationship with Nature.
4. Big thanks for joining the 'Big River' Book Launch Tour!  
5. Gabriel Newton’s SUPER POD is Coming ALL TOGETHER.
6. Salmon media round-up.

1. Biden Administration: 'Tribal Circumstances Analysis' highlights historic and ongoing negative impacts of Columbia River dams to Tribal communities.

© Wingspan Media ProductionsOn June 18, the Department of the Interior, in collaboration and coordination with the Columbia Basin Tribes, released a comprehensive “Tribal Circumstances Analysis” that outlines the historic, ongoing, and cumulative damage and injustices that the federal dams on the Columbia-Snake River have caused and continue to cause to Tribal Nations, and provides critical recommendations for upholding the federal government’s Treaty and trust responsibilities.

“The United States – by telling the truth about the historic and ongoing injustices the federal dams have imposed on our people and by embracing its Treaty and trust obligations – is upholding the rule of law and highlighting the urgency to act to prevent salmon extinction. The 'Tribal Circumstances Analysis' is a stark reminder that the federal dams were built on the backs of our Tribal Nations and our people, and continue to decimate our salmon populations and our culture, sovereignty, and way of life,” said Chairman Shannon Wheeler of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee.

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) Board of Trustees Member at Large, and chair of the the CTUIR’s Fish & Wildlife Commission and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Corinne Sams stated, “[The Tribal Circumstances Analysis] is a remarkable document, and a demonstration of the [Biden] administration’s commitment to restore the salmon runs and the ecosystems they depend upon in the Columbia Basin. We are confident that our partnership with the U.S. government will succeed in restoring our salmon runs, while at the same time meeting our needs for decarbonization and clean energy that does not kill fish and providing for the transportation, irrigation and recreation needs of our region.”

The Tribal Circumstances Analysis concludes: "Understanding, documenting, and better analyzing that history, much of which continues today, is only one part of the work that needs to be done. The next step is using this understanding to advance results on the ground." We must uphold treaties and commitments made to Tribes and urgently act to restore healthy and abundant Columbia-Snake River salmon and steelhead by replacing the services and breaching the four federal dams on the lower Snake River.

Learn more:

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2. 'Hot Water Report' for the Lower Snake and Columbia Rivers is now available.

Save Our wild Salmon and coalition partners have kicked off our 9th annual weekly series of the Hot Water Report. The Hot Water Report will elevate the visibility, importance, and consequences of the harmful impacts of high water temperatures and a changing climate on already-endangered coldwater fish in the Snake and Columbia River Basin.

The once-abundant anadromous fish populations in the Columbia-Snake River Basin are struggling to survive today primarily due to multiple harms caused by the federal dams and their reservoirs. The federal hydro-system creates conditions that harm and kill both juvenile and adult fish, including by elevating water temperatures in large, stagnant reservoirs in the summer months. These cold-water fish begin to suffer harmful effects when water temperatures exceed 68° Fahrenheit. The longer and the higher these temperatures rise above 68°F, the greater the harm.

Over the last several decades, during the summer months, harmful hot water episodes above 68°F in the Columbia/Snake Rivers have steadily increased in duration, frequency, and intensity. 

This year’s Hot Water Report will track water temperatures in real-time in the four lower Snake and four lower Columbia river reservoirs and highlight related issues and challenges facing the Columbia and Snake rivers, including the opportunities to improve them in order to recover healthy, resilient fish populations and the benefits they bring to the Northwest and nation’s culture, economy, and ecology. Read the first issue of the Hot Water Report here

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3. 'All Our Relations: Tribute to the Orca' event in Seattle elevates Indigenous voices and the need to re-imagine our relationship with Nature.

Tributetotheorca June© Jess Newley, courtesy of Se'Si'Le

Thank you to all who were able to attend All Our Relations: Tribute to the Orca on June 12 at the Seattle Aquarium. The 3-hour event was standing room only and attended by more than a dozen elected officials, policymakers and their staff. Everyone was moved by the powerful stories and honored to listen to Indigenous leaders across the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia share their expertise and wisdom and help us re-imagine our relationship with salmon and orcas:

  • Ken Workman, Duwamish Tribal Councilmember
  • Dmitry Lisitsyn, Goldman Environmental Prize Recipient & Former Director of Sakhalin Environment Watch and Nataliia Lisitcyna
  • Chairman Shannon Wheeler, Nez Perce Tribe
  • Rueben George, Sundance Chief, Member of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation
  • Leonard Forsman, Chairman, Suquamish Tribe and President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
  • Chenoa Egawa, Member of the Lummi Nation
  • Jay Julius, Member of the Lummi Nation and President of Se’Si’Le
  • Alyssa Macy, Citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and CEO of Washington Conservation Action

The event featured beautiful art pieces: an 8’ wide x 4.5’ high All Our Relations steel sculpture designed and welded by Cyaltsa Finkbonner (Lummi Nation) and 17 Southern Resident orca paintings by Gabriel Newton from his SUPER POD collection

Tributetotheorca June© Jess Newley, courtesy of Se'Si'Le

As our esteemed speakers communicated, we have a sacred obligation to past and future generations, and our ancient covenant with all our relations in the air, on the land, and in the waters. By pushing salmon runs to the brink of extinction, we are not living into the promises of federal treaties signed on our behalf with Northwest Tribes. There is much important work ahead to honor these promises and restore salmon and orcas, and we need your help. 

We are working with videographers now to share an online recording of the evening program. We will reach out with a link very soon!

Washington Residents Take Action: Send an email to Senator Murray and Cantwell urging them to uphold treaty rights and support tribal leadership in developing comprehensive solutions in the Salish Sea and the Columbia-Snake River Basin to protect salmon and orcas from extinction.

Contact Senator Murray and Cantwell Today

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4. Big thanks for joining the 'Big River' book launch tour!

A member of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs dipnetting for salmon on the Deschutes River in Oregon. © David Moskowitz

"What do the Indigenous people of the basin call this river? The answer defies easy categories or answers and often lies beneath the surface of how we understand the river.

For Chinook people at the river’s mouth, Wimahl, “big river.” For the Yakama and Nez Perce people mid watershed, Nch’i-Wàna, “big water.” For the Sinixt and other Salish Tribes in the upper watershed, Sx̌ʷnítkʷ, “water that makes noise.” Another Salish word for a particular place on the river is “miraculous.” This is where Chinook salmon could be speared easily from the shore in a back eddy.

Indigenous names for the river are numerous and rise out of cultures that have always been proximate to the water’s own world."—Excerpt from Big River, Naming the River, p. 17

Big thanks to the hundreds of you who joined us at launch events around the region for the new book Big River: Resilience and Renewal in the Columbia Basin. Save Our wild Salmon partnered with publisher Braided River for eight events on this international book tour, reaching diverse audiences interested in salmon and river restoration in Nelson (BC), Seattle, Olympia, Astoria, Portland, The Dalles, Richland, and Spokane.

The events showcased beautiful imagery from photographer David Moskowitz and commentary from author Eileen Delehanty Pearkes, who were joined by tribal and local leaders to discuss the importance of salmon, the Columbia River, and water to Indigenous culture and lifeways; modernizing the Columbia River Treaty to include the health of the river along with flood control and power production; salmon passage in the upper Columbia; restoring the lower Snake River; and other key issues affecting the river, its salmon, and people.


At different stops along the tour, audiences heard heartfelt stories from:

  • Cindy Marchand, Colville Confederated Tribes member (Sinixt: Lakes Band)
  • Lucille Begay, Yakama Tribal member and lifelong resident of Celilo Village
  • DR Michel, Colville Confederated Tribes member and Executive Director of Upper Columbia United Tribes
  • Claudia Castro Luna, former Washington State poet laureate
  • Ubaldo Hernández, Director of Comunidades and community organizer
  • Brenna Bell, with the Forest Climate Alliance and 350PDX

These Big River events galvanized important conversations regarding the Columbia Basin and the importance of protecting it now and into the future. Working together, we can advance our collective efforts toward more just, collaborative, and durable solutions for all. You, too, can experience the majesty of Big River – buy it from your favorite bookseller or order online today!

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5. Gabriel Newton’s SUPER POD is Coming ALL TOGETHER.
By Britt Freda, Creative Director of Northwest Artist Against Extinction

I had an opportunity to talk with Northwest Artist Against Extinction (NWAAE) collaborative artist, Gabriel Newton, after the 'Tribute to the Orca' event at the Seattle Aquarium where 17 paintings from his SUPER POD collection were exhibited. I caught up with him before he headed out for 6 days on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, in the headwaters of the Snake River.On the Move J-44, J57, J-46, J-53 & J-47 2023 - Acrylic on Found Wood - 91” x 12” © Gabriel Newton

Gabriel starts our conversation about his inspiration for creating this collection with a story of sea kayaking back from the Gulf Islands (British Columbia) to Roche Harbor (Washington State). Nearing Roche Harbor, he recounts an encounter with a Super Pod of 23 Southern Residents. “Orcas were surfacing 6 feet from my kayak. I could see them spinning as they passed under me. That experience made me feel so kindred with them. That was about 20 years ago—before I knew the full gravity of their situation.”

“Over time, I learned more about how dire their situation is. My brother, Luke, and I were brainstorming ideas about what I could do to help them. It was his idea to paint all of the orcas in the Super Pod. I started painting this series about 4 or 5 years ago. And 5 have died in the course of creating this project.” That sentence lands hard for me. I can hear grief in Gabriel’s voice. After a natural moment of silence, Gabriel tells me his newest project is a series of paintings of all of the Southern Residents who have died in the past 10 years. “I am painting them semi-translucent as ghost orcas to give a sense of them disappearing. There are about 26 in the past 10 years. This piece of the project is even harder emotionally to paint, to spend that kind of time with deceased whale after deceased whale.”

Our conversation circles back to this Super Pod collection of paintings. Gabriel says, “when painting the orcas, I painted them in [familial] groups. I incorporated family members with the hope that people would consider their own immediate family members. Per usual, the Indigenous people of this region have said it best, as they refer to them as ‘our relations below the waves.’”

The upcoming exhibit at the A/NT Gallery at Seattle Center will hang from July 30 – August 22. This will be the first time the entire Super Pod collection of paintings will be publicly exhibited together.

Dreaming of June Hogs J-36, Alki 2022 - Acrylic on Found Wood - 36” x 22” © Gabriel NewtonI asked what Gabriel hopes people will experience when they stand in the gallery surrounded by all 74 Southern Residents. “I want people to be able to relate to them as individuals, as well as a collective of all of the Southern Residents. To be with them all in one room creates a palpable sense of how few of them are left. I hope that experience motivates people to take any action they can.”

“Every time a thread in the web of life is broken, our own capacity to thrive is diminished. Orcas and salmon are both very integral threads.” – Gabriel Newton

Gabriel and I, the dedicated SOS team, the many members of the SOS Coalition, salmon and orca supporters, and likely you, dear reader—we find ourselves in a circle of passionate advocates, hopeful changemakers, thoughtful leaders, artists, and Indigenous wisdom. Within that circle, and beyond, I try to ask as often as possible: “From your vantage point, what do you recommend?” It doesn’t take long for Gabriel to answer, “First and foremost, it is about moving forward with the removal of the 4 lower Snake River dams so that salmon can recover, and the orcas will again have enough to eat. I hope people will go to the offices of Senators Cantwell and Murray, in person, and talk with an aide. Or if going in person isn’t feasible, call and write a letter. We need to make it pressing to make a move on it. It is going to take all of us to make this happen!” Hence the subtitle of the SUPER POD exhibit: ALL TOGETHER.

The entire collection of SUPER POD: All Together paintings will be on display at
the A/NT Gallery Seattle Center from July 30 - August 22
Show Opening: August 1, 6pm-8pm
Art Performance Night: August 22, 6pm-8pm
Learn more here.

Exhibits supported in part by Endangered Species Coalition, Sierra Club,
Earth Ministry, Se’Si’Le & Northwest Artists Against Extinction, a project of Save Our Salmon Coalition.

Read the full interview at

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6. Salmon media round-up.

Here are a couple of recent stories about the urgency and opportunity today for salmon recovery and river restoration:

News Coverage:


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