I think that Greenberg meant that the Yupik people are so reliant on the salmon as a part of their way of life that the declining salmon populations will lead further hardships for the Yupik in the future. Assuming that my interpretation is correct, it is understandable to make such a conclusion. I think that this is one possible conclusion. While the salmon struggle so do the Yupik, that is true today, but it does not always have to be.
It would be a long hard road, but the Yupik can find a way to survive without the salmon, which should hopefully never be required. It is in human nature to investigate and solve problems, that is how we cover the globe and continue to do so. While some elements of the culture would change, it is possible for the Yupik to continue to record their history and find new ways of moving forward. The fall of the salmon does not necessitate the end of the Yupik people.
Of course, any change in culture would come with hardships. It is not the desire of the Yupik to lose the salmon, to lose a way of life. If all is considered lost as the salmon population declines, then the Yupik people will be lost. Their history and stories, unique only to them would no longer exist. If the Yupik ask “Where do we go from here?” then there will continue to be hope in the future. That future may hold a different way of life, but it would also be theirs to create different from the rest and entirely their own.
In Four Fish Greenberg says “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.” I think what Greenberg is trying to convey is how connected the survival of Yupik culture is to the survival of wild salmon. Greenberg talks about how as salmon have declined Yupik communities are now somewhat dependent on food stamps. This is in a similar way to how salmon runs are becoming dependent on stocked fish. In other words, he is trying to say that if wild Alaska salmon disappear, then the Yupik people will disappear.
Personally, I tend to agree with Greenbergs assertion. The traditional Yupik way of life is impossible without robust wild salmon runs, if these runs disappear then Yupik culture will disappear. I also Greenberg was trying to point out that the Yupik community has an effect on the salmon as well, the Yupik community is not just dependent on the salmon, the salmon depend on the Yupik community as well. The Yupik people and the salmon have been co-dependent on each other for tens of thousands of years, and they will continue to be co-dependent. Greenberg points out that Yupik communities have one of the highest rates of suicide and poverty in the United States, and this decline of the communities is paralleled by the decline of the king salmon runs in the Yukon river and other rivers around Alaska, such as the Susitna and Kuskokwim.
When Paul Greenberg made that statement, I believe it was due to the fact that the Yupik people rely heavily on wild salmon for survival in many ways. Not only for subsistence purposes, but for financial income, as well. Harvesting salmon is a way of life for the Yupik. They consume it all year round, they use it for dog food, they use it for bait, and they fish for it commercially. In addition, like his experience in the book while visiting the Yukon to fish with Ray Waska Jr, the Yupik use it to barter with. If the future of wild salmon continues to decline, as it is, then the Yupik people will have very little to survive on, both financially and through consumption. Two additional areas of concern are the rate of suicide and the poverty level among the Yupik. Because they receive very little assistance from the government and they are “off the grid”, losing salmon would be devastating to their population in a number of ways. And, if this happens, it may very well result in a higher suicide rate among them. The wild Pacific salmon stocks are declining and that is a major concern. Greenberg also mentioned the amount of Pacific salmon that die as a result of “bycatch”. This, along with climate changes, illegal catch, and pollution is causing concern for the future of the salmon species, which in turn, will create a real concern for the future of the Yupik people, so yes, I agree with Greenberg’s statement. This is an issue that should not be taken lightly.
The word parallel jumps out at me in this passage by Paul Greenberg, as a child in school I learned the definition of parallel to be, two lines that will never intersect. The passage talks of the future of wild salmon and future of the Yupik. This being said I interpret Greenberg’s meaning as two paths, the salmon one line, the Yupik people as the other as two futures that no longer share the same course. As much as it saddens me to say it, yes I agree with this claim by Greenberg. The wild salmon runs are not what they once were on the Yukon and being that it is the longest salmon river in the world there is merit in strict regulations to protect. The Yupik people settled in the area ten thousand years ago. There is a long history of man’s relationship to the salmon in the area with rich cultural and historic roots. In order to protect this way of life for the Yupik people, biologists monitor numbers in the river using this data, from their findings they make educated guesses on the health of the fish. Which in return dictates their decision, on deciding sport fishing limits and when to have commercial openers. They reserve the right to act as conservatively as they feel is necessary to insure a sustainable fishery. The Yupik board of directors of Kwik’pak hope native caught Yukon Kings will become one of the most valued fish on Earth. Hopefully the Yukon continues to be protected and cherish so that the way of life it supports is protected as well.
Greenberg found that the past of the Yupik people and wild salmon have been intertwined, so it stands to reason that their futures would be similar as well. He learned that the wild salmon population, not only in Alaska but everywhere that they are found, has decreased significantly and has been harmed, and continues to be harmed, by the fishing industry in the modern world. Unfortunately, the Yupik people have a heavy reliance on salmon as part of their lives – from ways to earn money to practices and traditions that are essential to their culture. Therefore, Greenberg makes the deduction that as the future of the wild salmon looks dimmer and dimmer, so does the future for the Yupik people. Greenberg points out that they have some of the highest rates of suicide in the United States. So, the Yupik people are clearly not supported by the rest of the country. They are in danger of losing their people, their ability to sustain themselves, and their culture. I do agree with Greenberg’s claim that the futures are parallel to each other. Society today has made it impossible to maintain healthy levels of wild salmon populations around the world and has created situations that not only decrease the number of wild salmon, but also damage their genetic diversity and the unique and strong DNA that took thousands of years to evolve within these fish. Salmon are and always have been a crucial part of Yupik life, so it’s clear that if the salmon are doing poorly, it is yet another reason for the same to be true of the Yupik people.
Greenberg was exposed to a lot of the harsh realities of Yupik life, including the high suicide rate and relative scarcity of fish. It seems that while the wild salmon were doing well, so were the Yupik people, as their culture emphasizes their connectedness to nature. Salmon is their main source of food, and many of their practices and habits revolve around the health of the salmon at the time. As the salmon numbers drop, so does their opportunity to practice their culture. Now, salmon are valuable enough that they sell the good ones, receiving packaged meat in return. This is a big change from what it used to be. Greenberg also heard about the high suicide rate in the area, and probably connected that negativity with the conclusion that the Yupik people have a very different position now than they used to. He is probably thinking that as the salmon numbers continue to decline, the Yupik people will be forced to lose even more of their culture and identity, so their futures are as entwined as their past has been.
I do agree with Greenberg to some extent. I think that the future of wild salmon, if dark, will result in a further loss of culture for the Yupik people and mean a definite change for them. If the wild salmon experience a resurgence, I think the Yupik people will have an opportunity to revert in part to their old ways and regain some of the cultural identity they have lost in recent years. However, I would say that the modern world is changing at a fast pace, and even if salmon rebound, I’m sure that the Yupik people will have combined elements of Western culture and their traditions. If the salmon’s future is to decline, I think that some of the Yupik people will adapt to new times and, while losing some of their history, will rebound in a new way that none of us can foresee.
In this chapter, I think Greenberg meant that Yupik people were going in the same direction as the wild salmon. Parallel meaning that they are both interconnected, and that they both rely on each other. As they also have an affect on each other, good and bad. Just like mammals, the Yupik people rely on salmon as a main food source as they have for 10,000 years. As Greenberg mentioned, ” Yearly stocking may become as imperative for their survival as food stamps are to the Yupik.” Meaning without any sort of outside management, the population of future wild salmon could vanish forever. I agree that there needs to be certain regulations in place, to prevent a mass irruption in the species. I agree to a certain extent, because like it says in the passage, “There is no real certain way to test to see if we’ve gone too far. ” The only way would be to stop stocking Alaskan rivers, and then see what happens, but even that is detrimental. It is detrimental if the “wild” Alaskan runs disappear after we interfere by not stocking the rivers. I think Greenberg will learn a lot more as he goes into his investigation and does more research, but I think as far as where his head is at right now, that hes definitely not wrong. The Yupik people definitely pose a great impact on the Wild salmon, as salmon do in return. So, yes I would say that they are very parallel to each other, because the future is dependent upon them both.
The decline of wild salmon in Alaska’s Yukon is putting lives and native culture at risk
Here is a link to a recent news story based on some recent research findings of my group and collaborators.
This reporter got nearly everything right (which is rare talking to media).
Greenberg’s personal experience that set him on a journey to learn about fisheries stemmed from his love of fishing as a child, but became rooted when he returned to fishing as an adult. During his childhood, he began fishing in ponds and lakes, but as the fish became depleted, he found himself moving into streams and rivers, and then into the ocean to increase his catch. As an adult, he realized fishermen were having to go even further into the ocean to catch fish due to the continually decreasing schools along the shorelines. In addition, he noticed four particular kinds of fish that were being sold in grocery stores. That piqued his interest even more, causing him to learn about fisheries.
For me personally, I grew up fishing and still love it to this day. Living on an island where fish is plentiful and groceries are expensive, Sitka relies heavily on subsistence fishing. My first summer back after college, I was looking for a job and came across a “job for hire” ad for the Fish and Game Dept of AK. It was temporary, summertime work that required me to collect data and genetics from the code wires of tagged fish caught by commercial trollers. I love the job so much that I returned the following summer. Working for the Fish and Game for two summers gave me an insight on the importance of sustainability in our wildfish stocks. That led to my interest in working in the Fisheries industry.
I really like how Greenberg said “Four fish, then. Or rather four archetypes of fish flesh, which humanity is trying to master in one way or another, either through the management of a wild system, through the domestication and farming of individual species, or through the outright substitution of one species for another.” (pg. 11) and “but the fish we have chosen to tame are by and larger animals that satisfy whimsical gustatory predilections rather than the requirements of sound ecologically based husbandry.” (pg. 13). At this point in the book, I think Greenberg sees the health of world fisheries as somewhat dire. In need of help, but not necessarily to an extreme. By the end of the book, I think Greenberg will be a little more concerned, given the state our stocks are in. However, I also believe he will be optimistic that there is hope for recovery, since he has acknowledged the fact that fish stocks are capable of rebounding.
Paul Greenburg grew up in Greenwich Connecticut. He loved fishing, knew how to read rivers, knew the good spots for catching an abundance. He recalls that 1978 was a good year and owned an aluminum boat by 1981.
At the age of 19 he was no longer fishing, he went to college then a job in Bosnia. Coming home to his mother dying with cancer she urged him to go fishing. He noticed that the tackle shops held different tackle, the spring migration had changed.
I spent my summers along the Tanana River working fishwheels with my grandfather, my father and favorite uncle. During free time we would go fishing for pike at a favorite fishing spot.
We would also fish for grayling at Fish Creek, Bear Creek or Herman Shores. As I got older I realized that grayling are no catchable at Bear Creek and that there are fewer/smaller grayling at Herman Shores.
All 3 of the men worked for ADF&G counting salmon via fishwheel. I am walking in the footsteps of my forefathers by joining the Fisheries program. I hope to have my own fish camp along the Tanana River in the future. I would also like to build a fish trap like my ancestors.