The International Indigenous Salmon Seas Symposium

Building Indigenous-Led Conservation Alliances Across the Pan-Pacific Salmon Seas

Photo by Jess Newley/Friends of the San Juans


“We are the salmon people, our spirit and soul would be crushed if we have no salmon.”
Jay Julius, Member, Lummi Nation and President, Se’Si’Le

That deeply-held belief is shared by all of the Indigenous participants in Se’Si’Le’s October 27-31, 2022 International Indigenous Salmon Seas Symposium.

The Symposium brings together thirty-five Indigenous peoples, knowledge-keepers, and invited guests from the three great salmon seas: the Salish Sea, Alaska, and the Russian Far East (the Sea of Okhotsk/Bikin River and the Kamchatka Peninsula) for five days. We gather to invoke in a good way that is held in the arms of ancestral knowledge and deep ceremony a new era of collaboration and communication among the Salmon Peoples of the Pan-Pacific.

“All these Salmon Nations and Peoples hinge on a right and respectful relationship with the salmon. Survival of indigenous identity and culture depends on the salmon.”
JoDe Goudy, Member, Yakama Nation and Vice-President, Se’Si’Le

The cumulative impacts of overharvesting, habitat loss, pollution, governmental neglect, as well as global warming are all contributing to a decline of up to 90% of the wild salmon in these Salmon Seas. This catastrophic ecological disruption is also a clear and present danger to the ancient lifeways of the Pan-Pacific Indigenous communities. The Symposium is dedicated to the proposition that all of us have an obligation to each other, to all our relations, to the creation, and to future generations to honour ancient lifeways, celebrate our alliances, and work together to restore to health of the Salmon Seas and through that healing, to heal ourselves. Se’Si’Le is honoured to work with its friends and allies to facilitate this historic gathering that is a turning point in the work to restore the Salmon Seas. We express our gratitude to the indigenous participants who have come from the Russian Far East and to those from the Organized Village of Kake and the United Tribes of Bristol Bay who have come from Alaska. And our hands go out to the Original Peoples from the Salish Sea bioregion who will also bring their ancestral, ecological, and ceremonial knowledge to empower this historic gathering.

We invite all members of the public to join us on the livestream for a day of ceremony, storytelling and knowledge sharing on October 28th and a celebration on October 30th. All in-person events are invitation-only.

This event is organized by Se’Si’Le.

Se’Si’Le (saw-sea’-law) is the Lummi language term for our grandmother. Se’Si’Le is an all-Indigenous-led nonprofit based in Washington that reintroduces Indigenous Natural Law into the mainstream conversation about climate change and the environment. Working with strategic partners, we deploy storytelling, special events, targeted campaigns, and policy analysis to provide a voice for the voiceless, including Salmon, Killer Whales, rivers, streams, oceans and seas.

For more information on Se’Si’Le, visit: or contact Kurt Russo at



Photo by Aristide Economopoulos / The Natural History Museum


9:00 Opening Prayer and Ceremony (JoDe Goudy, Member, Yakama Nation, Vice-President, Se’Si’Le)
9:20 Sharing of Tradition and Ceremony • United Tribes of Bristol Bay • Organized Village of Kake (Tongass Forest) • Sea of Okhotsk/ Bikin River • Xw’ullemy (Salish Sea)
10:45 Break
11:00 Salmon: A Cultural Heritage of Bristol Bay
12:00 Lunch (Speaker: Pavel Suliandziga, Udege Elder and Leader)
1:30 Salmon: A Cultural Heritage of the Organized Village of Kake
2:15 Salmon: A Cultural Heritage of the Sea of Okhotsk/Bikin River
3:00 Salmon: A Cultural Heritage of the Salish Sea Bioregion
3:45 The Salmon Forest | Tongass National Forest – Alaska Nature Documentary Screening
4:15 Wrapping up
4:30 End of Day

 6:00 Opening Remarks from the Moderator (Jeff Renner)
6:05 Ceremonial Opening (JoDe Goudy, Yakama Nation, Vice-President of Se’Si’Le)
6:10 Welcome, (Modi Pontio, Associate Director of the Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program in Papua New Guinea)
6:15 Words from the Salmon People from the Russian Far East
· Introductions (David Gordon, Eurasian Conservation Fund)
· Itelmen People of Kamchatka (Tatiana Degai)
· Udege People of the Bikin River (Pavel Sulyandziga, Sr.)
6:45 King of Fish: Reflections on Our Relationship with Salmon (David Montgomery)
6:55 Care for Our Common Home (The Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Seattle)
7:05 Performance by Pavel Suliandziga Jr. (Udege Opera Singer)
7:15 Words of the Salmon People from Southeast Alaska, Bristol Bay, and the Salish Sea
· Organized Village of Kake (Joel Jackson, President)
· United Tribes of Bristol Bay (Tommy Tilden, Board Secretary, United Tribes of Bristol Bay)
· Xw’ullemy—The Salish Sea (Jay Julius, Member, Lummi Nation and President, Se’Si’Le)
7:55 Solidarity of the Salmon People: An International Indigenous Proclamation (Signatories)
8:00 End


Lincoln sits on the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission, Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium board, and is an Organized Village of Kake council member. “There’s a place we call Scotty’s garden, just south of Kake. They came across poles in the sides of the river. Fish traps. They did a carbon test on the poles in that stream, and those poles came out to be 3,000 years old. And that tells you how we survived on the land, and how important fishing is to our people. The mines affect our way of life, not only as Native people—but the fishermen, the tourism, the beautiful timber in the streams that attracts people. That’s all going to be destroyed. Nothing will be the same, if we have a Mount Polley disaster in a transboundary stream. It’s something that needs undivided attention from our Congressional delegation, from President Biden, from Canada. If we don’t work together, and our Indigenous people too, we’re falling fast. It’s not if, it’s when. And when that happens, who is responsible for it? Can it be prevented? We need to keep the water quality not just for Southeast Alaska, but for the whole Pacific Ocean.”

Molly has served as communications director for the United Tribes of Bristol Bay since 2017. Her parents are from California and Oregon, where she was raised; her family comes primarily from Germany, Denmark and Ireland. She currently lives and works remotely from Yaghanen, on Dena’ina Ełnena, with her dog and partner. Previously, she lived and worked as a journalist in several Alaska communities, including Dillingham, where she developed a deep gratitude for the Indigenous stewardship of natural resources that enables Alaskans to experience thriving ecosystems and robust salmon runs. She is passionate about empowering local voices and wants to ensure that the lands, waters and opportunities in Bristol Bay that have sustained people since time immemorial are available for the next generation. 

JoDe is former Chairman of the Yakama Nation, Vice-President of Se’Si’Le, and founder of, an educational resource center providing virtual platforms for events, conferences, workshops, and courses. He is expert on the issues of treaty rights, inherent rights, cultural and ceremonial knowledge, and deep histories such as the Doctrine of Discovery.

Jay (W’tot Lhem), is the founder and President of Se’Si’Le, the Principal of Julius, Consulting LLC, and served on the governing body of the Lummi Nation, for which he also served as Chairman. He has organized and executed Tribal, local, regional, and national campaigns. A bridge-builder, he uses empathy and storytelling to bring people together. Jay believes in honoring the past and his Nation’s treaty rights and inherent rights, and is a strong advocate for true government-to-government relations. He takes an uncompromising position to protect their treaty rights, their sacred sites, the environment, and the way of life (Sche Langen) of his people. A lifelong fisher, he currently shares his passion for fishing through his seafood business, where he has two seafood operations in the heart of his people’s original territory in the Salish Sea on San Juan Island. These businesses provide not only an income for his family, but a say to interact with the general public to inform them about the lifeways of his people.

Modi is Associate Director of the Woodland Park Zoo’s Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The TKCP-PNG is a local NGO focused on managing among many iconic animals including the endangered Huon or Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo. Her role is to work with TKCP partners to manage the field implementation of activities in the YUS (Yopno-Uruwa-Som) Conservation Area in Morobe Province, PNG and to promote community engagement and empowerment for natural resource management. The YUS Conservation Area is a Ridge to Reef Protected Area and the first Conservation in the country, fully owned by the customary village landowners. Papua New Guineans understand the value of their natural resources and have the power to decide on the best use of their natural resources once given the information and the resources to support their livelihoods in a sustainable manner. In 2006 she was awarded the Conservation Action Award from Conservation International in recognition of her work in supporting 24 Island Communities to develop community management for their Coastal and Marine Resource in Milne Bay Province, PNG .

Pavel Sr.  is an Udege elder and leader. Pavel was born in the village of Krasnyi Yar by Bikin River and has advocated for improvement of the well-being of his community for a long time. He negotiated with the federal and regional governments to resolve land claims. At the initiative of Pavel, the issue between Russia and China was resolved on opening the mouth of the Ussuri River for the passage of the Ussuri herd of chum salmon, which is the main food for Udege. Having a degree in economics Pavel was at the foundation of the Indigenous movement in Russia and actively participated in the development of the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He is an elected Honorary Professor of the UNESCO Department of Novosibirsk State University, former member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2005-2010) and a former member of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (2011-2018).

Anuska was born and raised in Koliganek, Alaska. She still resides in Koliganek. She is known by Anu. She has lived a subsistence lifestyle all her life. She enjoys her subsistence activities year round. Its a big part of who she is and what is most important to her. She loves to split and smoke salmon and picking salmon berries and other berries. She enjoys ice fishing for grayling, pike and lake trout. She was seven years old when she started fishing with her dad. She was a fisherman for 35 years. She serves on the Koliganek Village Council, Koliganek Natives limited and United Tribes of Bristol Bay. Just recently she was elected to serve on the Bristol Bay Native Association board of directors. She is a retired educator. She has a Bachelors degree in education. She taught in Koliganek, New Stuyahok and Dillingham schools. She is a wife, mother and grandmother to three lovely granddaughters. She enjoys beading crafts, skin sewing, beach combing, reading, traveling and doing activities with her family and friends. She has been and still adamantly continue to be an advocate to protect our land, water and resources because it is vital to who we are, our sustenance and for future generations.

April lives in Bellingham, Washington and works as a consultant for government relations, building community capacity and prevention of youth depression, suicide & substance use. April is a Cherokee Nation Citizen, Board Member of Se’Si’Le, Board Member of the Cherokee Community of the Puget Sound and a former Bellingham City Council member where she advanced climate action, equity & racial justice.

Sibyl Diver Ph.D. is a lecturer at Stanford University in the Earth Systems Program, and an interdisciplinary environmental scientist. She does community-engaged research on Indigenous water governance focusing on Pacific Northwest salmon watersheds. This includes research on co-management (or collaborative management) arrangements between Indigenous communities and state agencies, and decolonizing methodologies. Sibyl first engaged with Indigenous land rights and resource management twenty years ago as a Russian translator for international exchanges. She has worked on issues of Indigenous peoples and salmon around the North Pacific – in the Russian Far East, Alaska, Canada and the US – and is currently partnering with the Karuk Tribe on a social impact assessment of Klamath dam removal (California, US).

Joel of the Kàach.àdi clan, a child of the Tsaagweidi clan, and is a lifelong resident of Kake. He currently serves as the council President of the federally recognized Tribe, the Organized Village of Kake. He has been on Kake’s tribal council for almost 30 years. Joel worked as a road-builder for the Kake Tribal Corporation for 22 years, the Chief of Police for Kake for three years, and as a commercial fisherman. As a prominent Southeast Alaska Tribal leader, Joel has always championed caring for ancestral lands and waters that are intrinsically connected to Peoples’ traditional ways of life. Joel has said it’s impossible to separate the Tongass National Forest and its abundant salmon streams from our dinner table.

Judy is the new Community Engagement Director for United Tribes of Bristol Bay. She grew up in Naknek, AK and has been a lifelong set-net fisherman on the Kvichak River. Judy Jo offers much of her free time serving on various local and regional boards and councils including; Naknek Native Village Council as their Vice-President, Paug-Vik Inc. Ltd. as their Secretary, Bristol Bay Native Association Board of Directors and Ciulistet Board of Directors. She volunteers on various committees within her region. She is a wife, a mother, and a dog lover. She enjoys beading earrings, sewing mukluks, and reading. She also loves kayaking, camping and picking berries. Gathering wild edible and medicinal plants is an important part of her lifestyle and putting away salmon for subsistence use throughout the winter. Judy Jo is passionate about using her experiences in Tribal governance to protect our land, waters and resources for the future of our culture, economy and subsistence lifestyle.

Victoria Sharakhmatova Postdoctoral Scholar, ARCTICenter Department of Geography, University of Northern Iowa. Dr. Sharakhmatova is an economist who studies traditional subsistence and mixed economies and Indigenous fisheries in particular. She is an Itelmen scholar who is actively engaged in the work of the Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the North (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky city). Her research is focused on studying social-ecological systems, community adaptation, understanding perception and impact of climate change through the lens of Indigenous knowledge.

Thomas (Curyung) was born in Dillingham in 1953 to Mary and Earl Tilden. His family moved from Dillingham to Portage Creek along the Nushagak River when he was a young child, and he learned how to hunt, fish, and gather berries, game and plants to help sustain their lifestyle. He is the father of sons and daughters and has grandchildren. Tom studied at the University of Nagoya Japan, University of Alaska and Seward Skill Center. Tom is a Bristol Bay commercial drift fisherman and has worked on the North Slope as a baker, on seafood processors as a cook, for the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation as a cook, safety instructor, tobacco cessation trainer and now work as a call in cook for Kanakanak Hospital. He has been active in advocating for his hometown and the people of Bristol Bay as a Chief of the Curyung Tribal Council, board secretary for the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, board member for Choggiung Ltd., member of the Bristol Bay Native Association, Chair for Indian Education, village representative on the AFN board of directors, and has previously served as a councilman and Mayor for the City of Dillingham and board member for Nunamta Alukestai.

The Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne, D.D., S.T.L., was named archbishop of Seattle on September 3, 2019, by Pope Francis. Before that, he was the fourth archbishop for the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska, after serving as bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming, for seven years.
Archbishop Etienne was born in Tell City, Indiana, as one of six children. He has two brothers who are Catholic priests, as well as a sister who is a Benedictine nun.
He studied at Bellarmine College in Louisville, Kentucky; the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota; and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he earned a Licentiate of Spiritual Theology in 1995.
On June 27, 1992, he was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, where he served as pastor of several parishes, vocation director and vice-rector of the Bishop Simon Brute College Seminary.

Tatiana is an Itelmen scholar. Her life, work, and research are inspired by rich heritage, worldviews, and wisdom of her People and Indigenous communities whose traditional lands she visited and lived on. Her formal education is in Anthropology (MA, University of Alaska Fairbanks) and American Indian Studies (PhD, University of Arizona). She is currently an assistant professor at the department of Anthropology, University of Victoria, British Columbia and an Affiliate Assistant Professor of the Arctic Indigenous Studies at the Arctic, Remote, and Cold Territories, Interdisciplinary Center (ARCTICenter), University of Northern Iowa. Tatiana’s research centers around Indigenous visions to sustainability, Indigenous languages, and Indigenous arts. Tatiana maintains strong connection with her community working on language and culture revitalization, and community well-being. Tatiana has developed a number of educational publications that are aimed at bringing back Itelmen knowledge about salmon, and organized salmon youth camps and festivals in Kamchatka. Tatiana is a traditional dancer and artist. Among her most recent creative projects is AIVAN (Arctic Indigenous Virtual Artists’ Network) where she is leading discussions among the artists, scientists and knowledge holders around diverse understandings of socio-ecological systems.

David is an independent consultant with a background in strategic philanthropy and environmental grantmaking to support international conservation and indigenous rights. He started at Pacific Environment, a non-profit intermediary where he supported grassroots environmental and indigenous leaders in Russia, China, and Alaska. At Pacific Environment, he helped galvanize collaborative, cross-border efforts to protect the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk, conserve the endangered Western Gray Whale from offshore oil and gas development, and encourage shipping safety. He worked as Senior Program Officer in the Environment Program at the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, where he managed grantmaking programs focused in British Columbia, Alaska, and the Mekong Basin. He served as Executive Director of the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s largest award honoring grassroots environmental activists. He is a member of the Advisory Board at the Trust for Mutual Understanding. He has consulted for philanthropic organizations including The Christensen Fund, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and he manages the Eurasian Conservation Fund.

Karla is Dena’ina Athabascan, of the K’kalach’ey clan (fish tail), the daughter of Carl & Marjorie Jensen. Born and raised in Pedro Bay, on Lake Iliamna. Mother of 2 daughters, granddaughter, wife to Karen. Karla is an avid photographer, traveler, hunter/gatherer and passionate about all things indigenous. Karla’s career was mainly law enforcement and remote government security, until she switched to Environmental work, where she now works for her tribe as the environmental coordinator/technician. Karla currently serves on the Lake Clark Subsistence Resource Committee. Having grown up in the 1960’s during a time where animals and fish were abundant, at the time there was no thought of losing that. With today’s environmental threats, Karla is passionate about protecting the cultural lands, animals/birds, and fish for future generations. The water we drink, the animals/birds we hunt, fish we harvest, tie us all together as one tribe.

Aleksandr is Itelmen fishermen and hunter. He was born and raised
in the village of Kovran – current cultural capital of Itelmen people. Aleksandr has
been fishing his entire life to provide for his family. Aleksandr helped to co-organize
educational salmon youth camps, and salmon educational campaigns in Kovran. He
is also a traditional dancer, carver, drummer and singer who has been actively
engaged in the work of traditional Itelmen dance group “Elvel” travelling on dance
tours across Russia.

Pavel Jr. is a young Udege opera singer. Pavel enjoyed great acclaim as an established performance tenor despite his young age. He is a master’s graduate of the Gnesin Academy of Music (Moscow) in 2015, he studied with Arthur Levy and just completed his professional studies diploma at the Mannes College of Music (New York). Mr. Pavel Suliandziga is the recipient of many awards in voice competitions. He was the fist-place winner in 2013 and 2014 with AADGT in New York, performing in Carnegie Hall; third-prize winner in the Bella Voce competition in Moscow; third-prize winner in the Talents of the World International Competition; the Finalist of Licia-Albenese competition and Giulio Gari competition. He has participated in many operas as core roles, such as Lensky (Eugene Onegin), Tamino (The Magic Flute), Ferrando (Cosi Fan Tutte), Nemorino (L’elisir D’amore), Count Almaviva (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Anatol (Vanessa), Tybalt (Romeo et Juliette), Remendado (Carmen), Beppe (Pagliacci), Gastone (La Traviata), Peter Quint (The Turn of The Screw). Pavel is currently working on bringing his Udege knowledge and language into opera.

Amber is a Curyung tribal member currently residing in Aleknagik, Alaska who grew up subsisting with her family in the Dillingham area. She is an artist, health aide, and the OUD Peer Support Coordinator at BBAHC. She was awarded the Choggiung LTD Shareholder of the year award, the BBNC shareholder of the year award and the Walter Soboleff Warrior of Light Award in 2019. In 2018, she was awarded a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Project Award for the Qaspeq Project in honor of MMIWG2S+ that she hopes to bring to more communities in Canada and the US. Her work visually explores the evolution and strength and sovereignty of indigenous people after genocide and intergenerational trauma. She is deeply invested in preserving indigenous land and protecting it from exploitation. See more of her work on Instagram @imarpikink


The Original Peoples of the Pan-Pacific Salmon Seas have from time immemorial honoured their obligation to safeguard our natural and cultural heritage for future generations. It is our collective sacred duty and obligation to honour and protect salmon with our stewardship.

In this spirit of an ancient covenant with the Creation we, therefore:

  • Honour first and foremost the intrinsic right of the Original Peoples to continue existing as Salmon Peoples, whose cultures and
    lifeways are intertwined with the well-being of our natural environment.
  • Support individual and collective efforts to restore and protect for future generations our Salmon relations and their lifeway
    throughout the Salmon Seas.
  • Call for respect and reciprocity among cultures and communities as we strive to ensure long-term and sustainable
    coexistence with our Salmon relations that give life to our lands, waters, and lifeways.


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