Submitted by The Evergreen State College

Students in the “Conceptualizing Place: Pacific Northwest Native Art and Geographies” class at The Evergreen State College have produced a 132-page online book about barriers to salmon runs, notably dams, dikes, and culverts, and how tribal nations have led alliances to remove some of the barriers in order to restore salmon habitat in Northwest watersheds.

In “Removing Barriers: Restoring Salmon Watersheds through Tribal Alliances,” narratives of the watersheds are told through text, graphics, and students’ 42 original digital artworks and maps, as students simultaneously learned Northwest Native histories, geographies, and art styles.

The place-based stories of habitat restoration highlight how treaty rights and tribal sovereignty have become leading drivers of reversing damage wrought by settler colonialism, and how the healing of the watersheds and their estuaries is made possible by a process of decolonization and reindigenization in corresponding Indigenous homelands.

The book’s theme of “removing barriers” applies to the barriers to salmon runs, barriers between human beings and the natural world, barriers between Native and non-Native communities, and barriers to Indigenous self-determination.

The twelve chapters highlighted the Nisqually, Elwha, Skokomish, Chico, White Salmon, Nooksack, White, Deschutes, Chehalis, Klamath, and Snake watersheds, as well as background on dams, dikes, and culverts, and their effects on Pacific salmon, orcas, and coastal communities (see Contents below for two PDFs to download).

The publication is an example what the work Evergreen students can accomplish in interdisciplinary, team-taught programs. Under the remote supervision of faculty (artist Alexander McCarty and geographer/cartographer Zoltán Grossman), students produced Adobe Illustrator artwork and maps in fall 2020, with text laid out in Adobe InDesign in winter 2021. Media Services offered invaluable training and assistance. We are currently working with Evergreen, The Natural History Museum, and Endangered Species Coalition to raise funds for a physical printing; other partnerships are welcome. For more information visit the Removing Barriers website

Video of faculty and student presentation (49 min.) on “Removing Barriers” to Evergreen’s Equity Symposium (4/14/21).

Submergence exhibit on salmon and orcas at Seattle’s Jack Straw Cultural Center, June 1-July 2, 2021. Thanks to the Endangered Species Coalition for including examples of student artwork from “Removing Barriers” in the opening multimedia video. View the free online opening on Friday, June 4 at 7 p.m.

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