TESLIN, Yukon Territory (AP) — A traditional Tlingit story about respect, as told by Teslin Tlingit band council member Duane Aucoin:
“There was a young boy who didn’t respect the salmon and he made fun of them one time, even after his parents told him not to. He saw salmon eggs and he said, ‘Those look like maggots.’
“The salmon heard this and, as a teaching to him, he was turned into a salmon and he was taken out to the ocean and he lived with the salmon and the people in their village. When it was his turn to spawn, his mother actually caught him in her net and he said, ‘Mom! Don’t eat me!’
“She recognized him by the necklace she had given him and said, ‘Oh, that’s where my son went.’
“The boy learned his lesson by actually living the life of a salmon, how to respect them and how important they are.
“Maybe the salmon collapsing is part of our lesson that we have to learn. Maybe we didn’t respect them as we should have. Maybe we’re taking for granted how plentiful they were, and now we get to experience how life is without that.
“We all belong to this one (Yukon) river. If we don’t do something now, what are we going to tell future generations? ‘Our caches were full, but, sorry, yours are empty?’”