Embracing Our Salmon Spirit

Among the Northwest Indians and those who value their wisdom and sensitivity regarding the Interdependent Web, the Native Salmon Symbol symbolizes abundance, fertility, prosperity, and renewal. Join Reverend Furrer and the rest of ESUC as we begin our church year. Followed by ESUC’s annual Salmon Bake.

“Embracing Our Salmon Spirit”
September 16, 2018

This morning we officially kick off our church year.
• Usually the weekend after Labor Day…
• Annual Salmon Bake: a whole-church celebration & potluck.
Salmon is a great choice for this community celebration and for many reasons – a couple of which I want to touch on now.
• It’s one of the 25 or so “superfoods”
• Looking to keep sharp, improve your eyesight, and build your bones? Then eating superfoods is what you’ll want to do.
• Superfoods are good if you want to slim down too. Salmon is a source of lean protein, which makes you feel full without all adding all the extra fattiness—a leaner, far healthier choice than eating red meat.

The original, pre-Columbian, pre-conquest inhabitants of this part of North America included the Suquamish, Duwamish, Nisqually, Snoqualmie, and Muckleshoot tribes. Among these peoples the salmon was—and remains—a powerful totem.

What’s a totem?
• The term totem comes from the Ojibwa people of the upper Midwest, but belief in totem spirits is common to indigenous cultures worldwide.
• A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people (family, clan or tribe).
• It’s here in the Pacific NW where we find the exquisite Totem Poles we all know about, featuring bears, frogs, birds, people, various supernatural beings and aquatic creatures—including, naturally, salmon. Totem poles recount stories cherished by the artists who carve them and are read from the bottom to the top.

Various neoshamanic and New Age movements sometimes use the totem to signify their identification with a particular animal’s spirit as their daemon, guardian spirit, or guide.

The salmon were central to the life and livelihood and culture of all the Indians tribes native to the Puget Sound area. Tribal health was intimately connected to the health of the salmon—as the Salmon Boy Story LeAnne read to the children makes abundantly clear.

As the more “grown-up” Vine Deloria reading LeAnne shared with us moments ago also made clear—re-membering our intimate interdependence with the flora and fauna in our midst is the challenge our modern day tribe must meet, or we will perish. To that end, let us—like Salmon Boy—learn our lessons and learn them well. And let us begin this day by integrating into our hearts and bodies the salmon spirit to be our animal totem.

The salmon is a noble creature if ever there was one: tough and able to persevere when others less resilient would give up. The path before our tribe today—our UU tribe and our national, American tribe—is filled with challenges as we seek to move from an economy of exploitation and plunder to one that’s more equitable, economically sustainable and ecologically whole. Tall order though it is, let us remember always that within all challenges lie positive goals and opportunities for growth.

To Native Americans, integrating one’s salmon spirit represents taking inside oneself the qualities of determination, strength, and wisdom salmon exemplify. It means overcoming adversity and achieving success, leading—invariably—to regeneration, transformation, and wisdom. Let these good and wholesome goals, then, be our shared mantra this season, and throughout the year ahead.

May it be so. Amen.