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Moved from Westmoreland Park because of the Portland Marathon, Johnson Creek Park worked well

DAVID F. ASHTON - Tending the fire at the traditional Salmon Bake was Clifton Bruno (Wasco-Columbia River). Although the banners read "Westmoreland Park Salmon Celebration", this year's event actually took place a bit south of that location, at Johnson Creek Park, on Sunday, October 6.

"This, our sixth annual Salmon Celebration, has been each year in Westmoreland Park; but, because this year's Portland Marathon's route ran past that park, we moved it here to Johnson Creek Park," explained one of the originators and organizers, Judy BlueHorse Skelton, (Nez Perce/Cherokee).

"What's exciting is that we love this new location – it's the confluence of Crystal Springs Creek and Johnson Creek; there's a little waterfall; and you can easily see the gravel beds for salmon spawning at this location," she told THE BEE.

They hold the annual celebration, "Because salmon truly is our relative; so we celebrate salmon coming back up into the creeks," Judy BlueHorse Skelton made clear. "With salmon coming back in our city, it reminds us that we are healing our land, and healing the people; it's a very strong and beautiful sign of community health, for everybody."

Harold Paul, a Nez Perce drummer, who opened the festival, said, "Native people been coming here since time immemorial to fish, to fall in love, to govern, to make decisions, to play, and commune."

"For us, this is a celebration that, as indigenous people, we're still here," commented BlueHorse Skelton. "And, salmon has always been part of our lives; so having salmon here with us means that we are on a good path."

This celebration is joyful, emotional, and healing, she said. "The emotions I feel include hope, life-affirming, and joyfulness – we celebrate; we recognize our history of trauma and the taking of land. We recognize our culture, and our languages.

"This is a time when we celebrate reclaiming all, as we hear our languages spoken today, we celebrate our culture and people are dancing again, and the salmon are here – it's a full circle; it's all good."


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