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Tradition of sharing continues

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With sockeye returning by the thousands, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation have been inviting other tribes to join them in their bounty. For the last few years, the Colvilles have been using their fishing boat, the Dream Catcher, to net salmon returning to the upper Columbia River where Chief Joseph Dam blocks further passage. Before hauling in their load, tribal fishermen nab the naturally-spawning salmon and release them, keeping only the hatchery origin fish, distinguishable by their clipped adipose fin. With such a huge return this year, the Colvilles have hosted fishermen from the Coeur d'Alene Kalispel, Kootenai, Wanapum, Shoshone-Bannock and Spokane tribes. Already this year — and the run's not over — the Colviles have netted over 8,000 sockeye, and distributed fresh fish twice to their own members in Nespelem, Omak, Keller and Inchelium. They've also vacuum sealed some of the salmon and are storing them in a freezer to distribute this winter. A news release from the Colvilles quotes fishermen from other tribes. Some say the experience has been useful in teaching tribal children the importance of salmon to their culture. Others say they're happy to get more salmon back into their diets. A fisheries biologist for the Shoshone-Bannock tribe says he hopes to see Colville Tribal members at their annual buffalo roundup this fall. Colville Tribal Chairman John Sirois says it's inspiring to see the ancient tradition of trading returning to their tribes. "We honor these gifts of salmon, bison, roots and berries by sharing and trading what we were given by the creator," he said in the news release. "We raise the health of all of our people through sharing these medicine gifts."