Upper Skagit Tribe teaches children tribal ties to nature

The Skagit Valley Herald covered the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe’s annual Kids’ Fishing Derby:

Wriggling and splashing, a rainbow trout escaped 3-year-old Ella Simpson’s hook. The half-pint-sized daughter of a fisherman gamely tried again.

With a little adult help, Ella of La Conner caught her first fish from one of the tanks at the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe’s hatchery.

“It’s a fish,” said Ella, holding up the plastic bag that held her prize.

Her brother Ethan, 5, also caught a trout. A more experienced fisherman, he knew how to tell fishing stories.

“It was like a shark,” said Ethan and then poked his index finger in the trout’s mouth.

Upper Skagit tribal member Jerry Fernando helps a preschooler hook a rainbow trout at the tribe's Kids' Fishing DerbyThe Simpson siblings were among about 70 children, aged 3 to 5, who attended the tribe’s annual Kids Fishing Day. The children came from the Upper Skagit Early Childhood Advancement Program and the Susan Wilbur Early Education Center on the Swinomish Reservation. This year, children from schools in Burlington and Clear Lake also attended.

Besides an opportunity to hook their first fish, the children also potted cedar saplings, prepared cedar bark for weaving and listened to an Upper Skagit tribal member describe life before conveniences, such as stoves, grocery stores or television.