“We were wealthy from the water,” Mitch Smallsalmon says, and like all the tribal elders, he speaks to our understanding of the natural world and the consequences of change. In this book the wisdom of the elders is passed on to the young as the story of the Jocko River, the home of the bull trout, unfolds for a group of schoolchildren on a field trip.
The Jocko River flows through the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana. For thousands of years the Salish and Pend d’Oreille Indians lived along its banks, finding food and medicine in its plants and fish, and in the game hunted on its floodplain. Readers of this story will learn, along with the students of Ms. Howlett’s class, about the history and culture of the river and its meaning in Native life, tradition, and religion. They will also discover the scientific background and social importance behind the Tribes’ efforts to restore the bull trout to its home waters. Beautifully illustrated and narrated in the tradition of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes, this account of conservation as the legacy of one generation to the next is about being good to the land that has been good to us. Bull Trout’s Gift is steeped in the culture, history, and science that our children must know if they hope to transform past wisdom into future good.
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are located on the Flathead Reservation in western Montana. They have undertaken a large-scale watershed restoration project in an effort to benefit bull trout in the Jocko River drainage. An important component of this project is education and outreach, of which the centerpiece is a multimedia set of educational materials describing the ecology and importance of bull trout and their relationship with the Salish and Pend d’Oreille people. This integrated set includes the storybook Bull Trout's Gift, the Field Journal, and the interactive DVD Explore the River: Bull Trout, Tribal People and the Jocko River. Sashay Camel has done illustrations for the American Indian College Fund and seasonal work at the National Bison Range in Moiese, Montana.