You may think of salmon as a good choice for a weekday dinner, or enjoy it smoked and sliced on a bagel. But that salmon on your plate has a long and illustrious history as a subsistence food for indigenous cultures of the Pacific Northwest. It has a fascinating story – and one you can explore in the Smithsonian's Sant Ocean Hall at the National Museum of Natural History. Take a canoe ride through the past and learn the story of salmon and people.
This abundance of food also gave people time to create artistic items and develop elaborate social and cultural ceremonies and customs. They used salmon for everything: its flesh for food, its skin for clothing and bags, its oil for cooking, its bones for needles. In this anthropological display, you can see some of many salmon-related crafts and learn about modern Native American First Salmon ceremonies – during which people gather to pay respect to the salmon and its life-giving qualities.
The 25-foot canoe was carved especially for this exhibit by a Tlingit master carver, in partnership with Smithsonian and the Sealaska Heritage Institute. Its log was carefully selected for its size and shape, and its design reflects motifs and symbols of its carver's culture.
Come to the Smithsonian's Sant Ocean Hall to learn more about the details of its construction, its history, and its significance.