Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Saved by Salmon

Saved by Salmon

Norm: I don’t remember my first
fishing trip. My mom told me I was, I was born in May, she said that September my
dad took me out of her arms and said that “I’m taking the boy fishing.” As a very young
kid I was seven to ten I had my own little commercial license and so I was
on the Chesapeake Bay at 3:30 in the morning in my uncle’s boat with my dad.
I’ve always fished. Jay: My great-grandmother was an incredible
chef. So I don’t know if it was it, you know, in the bloodline or what. I think a
lot of it was just observing and watching. Some of the biggest memories I
have is preparing the salmon for the winter and we’re not just saying you
know two three four fish I mean we’re talking you know 150 200 salmon. That’s
what the family lived on. What I really learned you’ll never go hungry as long
as the tide goes in and out you know. You should always be able to provide a meal
for your family. Fish in the diet is important when it’s not having at once a
month you know at seven it may be two or three times a week. When I found out I
had diabetes I didn’t take it seriously you know at first. We always felt like
you’re gonna live forever you know and it’s like oh my gosh I could lose limbs
I could lose eyesight. I got to do something Norm: Early in my life I did a lot of drinking. My dad died when I was 12, my first wife died when I was
29 from cancer. I was extremely angry. My fear and my shame, my desperation
drove me to the water. I’d be angry, I’d be frustrated, I’d go out there and I… I’d
go fishing and I was able to find that refuge that if something got rough in my
life instead of drowning myself in alcohol. I could get into my belly
and nurture that spiritual connection there’s one little small part of that
creation salmon is a tool that I’ve been given to keep my sobriety. The abundance
of salmon we used to have it was phenomenal. In the 1980s after the
scientists the colonists we’re going to have a problem with salmon very very
quickly it happened. Jay: To think of you know our fishermen going out there and not being able to harvest it’s kind of devastating. Norm: And I thought how can I give back to the salmon. Jay: The Poggie Club and the fact that they’re willing to help the tribe is priceless. I think that you know the joint effort in us all
working together along with the state is an important relationship Norm: Both the tribal community and our little Kitsap Poggie Club we have more in common than what some people think. They have a great respect for their resource and so do I. Jay: The resource has a lot more hurdles with pollution and development than
they’ve ever had. And so having the hatcheries to help these salmon runs is
important. Norm: without hatcheries we wouldn’t have the number of fish we have today. Hopefully someday we can make that leap from a
hatchery supportive system to a naturally spawning system. Until we have the
additional habitat that’s necessary for the land management practices in place
we absolutely need hatcheries. It’s to our benefit to help them so that
we have another generation of salmon that we can go fishing for. I’ve eaten
their smoked salmon and I’ve heard them tell me how they do it but I’ve never
been successful at it. I’d like to learn that from Jay. Jay: Being able to just show Norm the process, it was incredible.
You know I was fortunate enough to be able to learn it. Hopefully you know
he’ll pass it on his kids our grandkids Norm: What a wonderful gift that they’re
giving me and to share our love for the fish. Jay: No, salmon aren’t just for tribal members. I mean they don’t have tags on it and says well I’m a tribal member you know
fish and your non-tribal member fish. Going back to some of the traditional
foods is definitely a one step in getting to where I need to be. So I’ve
probably lost 40 pounds in the last six months. The seafoods and living off of
the land was a part of growing up. You know we didn’t have a McDonald’s or
Burger King on every corner. But I want for our young people more than anything
would be to learn their history. I’m the elder now you know and so I think it’s
my job to teach as many as I can while I can. Norm: I want to pass on a deep respect for what we have and hopefully a desire to
keep it. That’s why I’m sitting here today because I want all our communities:
Native American and others to have salmon for the future.

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