When Paul wrote, “I couldn’t help but think that in a way the future of wild salmon and the future of the Yupik people were somehow sadly parallel to each other.” It felt that an impending doom for the salmon was coming, and the Yupik people would feel the brunt of it. The salmon to the Yupik is more than a fish; they are a part of their everyday lives. The salmon returning every year is a primary source of the Yupik subsistence. When life is good for the salmon, life is good for the Yupik. When salmon numbers are hurt, the people feel it. The book talks about the elders remembering starvation, and this made me think of my friend’s dad. A Yupik friend of mine told me that when his dad was seven years old, his grandfather died. He said the community helped his family, but times were tough for everyone because of food shortages. He said many times his father didn’t eat dinner.
When the cash economy hit the Alaska natives, it was a hurdle. The Yupik found a way to be able to afford things they need to buy. In the book, they can have money by selling the salmon to the Kwik’pak.
I believe that when the wild salmon are no longer returning to the rivers, the Yupik people will leave their traditional lands. The salmon is what is keeping them there with their traditional values and way of life. The future of salmon and the Yupik people are going to need support to continue.