Smithsonian museum features tribe’s salmon-recovery effort

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Washington, D.C.:  Below the 45-foot model of a right whale named Phoenix, behind the case that holds a rare giant squid and not far from the remains of a prehistoric coelacanth that was caught off Africa is an exhibit highlighting Pacific Northwest salmon and the Nisqually Tribe’s efforts to restore a wild run.

Though it may not be the flashiest display in the new, $49 million Sant Ocean Hall at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, curators say that it’s a unique story about a fish that migrates thousands of miles against almost overwhelming odds before returning home to spawn.

There’s also a human side to the tale. Salmon are the lifeblood of a Native American culture that stretches from Northern California to Alaska, and restoring the dwindling runs is an almost sacred duty. The northwest Pacific Coast became the most heavily populated Native American region because of the salmon.


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