For the first time in several generations, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe held a blessing ceremony for its fishermen this summer.

“We wanted to recover the history behind the ceremony but also create an event that was reflective of the tribe today,” said Nicole Aikman, one of the organizers. “We knew it had been done in the past but none of our elders remember it taking place in their lifetime.

Salmon in cedar boughs prepared for the blessing ceremony at Point Julia. Click on the picture for more photos from the event.

“It’s important to recognize our fishermen and let them know the strength of support they have from their tribe.”

Several hundred tribal members, staff and friends showed up at Point Julia Aug. 11 for the “Return of the Salmon” ceremony.

Elders blessed the day, then the S’Klallam Canoe Family took four small baskets of decorated salmon carcasses out to Port Gamble Bay while the S’Klallam Singers offered songs.

“It’s an awesome experience because it brings us together, creating fellowship,” said tribal elder Lloyd Fulton. “It’s a wonderful day because our tribe is really blessed with all our fishing, clamming and geoducking. I’m thankful for the strength that I have to fish because it is from the strength of the tribe.”

The organizers were pleased with the turnout and event, which included food, art, free T-shirts for attendees and activities for kids. The tribe plans to make it an annual event.