The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

Kaku-Ixt Mana Ina Haws Salmon Bake returns in celebration of Indigenous culture

Jonathan Calderon
Food being served during the annual Salmon Bake hosted by the Ina Haws Cultural Center in 2019.

The smell of grilled salmon, laughter and the warmth of community will fill the air once again as the annual salmon bake returns to Kaku-Ixt Mana Ina Haws.

Scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. on May 17, this tradition promises an afternoon of culinary delight and cultural celebration.

The heart of the event lies in the salmon, which volunteers prepared alongside an array of side dishes and drinks, according to Agléška Cohen-Rencountre, the center director. Central to the event is its homage to the indigenous salmon culture of the Pacific Northwest. Salmon, often considered a keystone species, are profoundly significant for many tribes along the Columbia River.

Reflecting on the significance of salmon in indigenous culture, Cloe McMichael, a leadership liaison at the center, emphasized its role as a keystone species essential for sustenance historically. McMichael highlighted how salmon not only provided vital nutrients but also symbolized one of the first foods for Pacific Northwest tribes.

The salmon bake is a meal and a symbol of sustenance, tradition and ecological interconnectedness. Embracing continuity and tradition, this event mirrors previous salmon bakes, according to Cohen-Rencountre, fostering a sense of belonging and identity within the community.

From the early 1970s, the Kaku-Ixt Mana Ina Haws has ensured the essence of the salmon bake remains unchanged, a testament to its enduring significance according to Luhui Whitebear, an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies at OSU and former director of the center.

The success of the salmon bake relies on the collaboration of volunteers, student staff and local tribal fishers. Their dedication ensures a delicious meal and an enriching experience for those who attend.

The organizers emphasized that the salmon bake welcomes those genuinely interested in engaging with indigenous culture. While no tickets or reservations are required, attendees are encouraged to join with a sincere desire to connect, learn and honor the heritage of the nine Confederated Tribes of Oregon.

“We want people that are interested in that sense of community, and belonging and honoring the nine Confederated Tribes of Oregon, and it’s that sense of building a longer table so that everyone can participate,” Cohen-Rencountre said.

Last year saw an impressive turnout of around 800 attendees, according to McMichael, and similar numbers are expected for this year.

For those drawn to the community and eager to contribute to this tradition, volunteering can offer a rewarding opportunity. Cohen-Rencountre encouraged those who are interested in joining the Kaku-Ixt Mana Ina Haws team to feel free to reach out to [email protected].

“Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to do it at all,” McMichael said. “Serving 800 people is a lot and our volunteers really create the community and make it a really positive place, run the event through.”

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