Covenant of the Salmon People started as an idea to amplify the many challenges facing Northwest salmon. In early 2021 Nez Perce Tribe Chairman Shannon Wheeler acknowledged that the Nez Perce story needed to be told, and what better way to do that than through film. Take to the commencement of the project to produce this story. Many ideas flowed through and the one story that had yet to be told was that of the connection to an ancient covenant with salmon.
As the creation story tells, when Nimiipuu (Nez Perce people) were first created, the salmon were the first species to step forward and offer themselves as sustenance for the humans. In return, the Nimiipuu would protect salmon and speak on their behalf. Since then, the Nimiipuu have continued to uphold this ancient covenant.
Navigating a project of this stature was a challenge with many obstacles along the way. The film was being captured during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to many delays and rescheduled filming sessions. We were also at the mercy of Mother Nature when it came to capturing footage, this sometimes meant last-minute trips to capture a salmon run or the cancellation of a trip because of poor weather. The Tribe was also actively fundraising throughout the process, which had a series of its own challenges.
The light at the end of the tunnel finally glimmered in the fall of 2022 when we had our first 60 minutes of film to review. At that time there was a huge sigh of relief knowing this film was going to see completion. In reviewing the first cut, tears were shed and hopes were raised as we realized our goal to tell our story was a reality.
Through countless hours of editing and revising, we had a final product that was more powerful than we could have imagined. The film was submitted to several film festivals and made its first appearance on the big screen in Missoula, Montana during the International Wildlife Film Festival. This was followed by a full schedule of screenings, with the first debut in Lewiston, Idaho where it all started.
As we continue to book new venues and bring the film to new places, the story of Covenant of the Salmon People is an unwavering reminder of the harsh reality facing salmon and what needs to be done to protect them and ensure their survival.
What can I do to help protect salmon?
Talk to your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Share the facts and the harsh reality facing Northwest salmon. You can also contact your local legislators and urge them to support salmon recovery and restoration. By visiting salmonorcarproject.org you can also sign on to a letter urging the Biden Administration to breach the four lower Snake River dams.
How can I stay informed on upcoming events and screenings?
You can find the film schedule on covenantofthesalmonpeople.com and by following the Nez Perce Tribe on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formally known as Twitter). You can also visit salmonorceproject.org for upcoming events and follow Salmon Orca Project on Facebook and X.
Can I donate funding to the cause?
The Nez Perce Tribe is not actively seeking donations. If you would like to support our efforts in this manner, please contact the Nez Perce Tribe Communications Department at email@example.com (208)621-4772.
How can I get the film shown in my hometown or classroom?
If you are interested in hosting a screening at a location near you, please contact the Nez Perce Tribe Communications Department at firstname.lastname@example.org (208)621-4772.
What is the cost to host a screening?
There is no fee to show the film. For inquiries, please contact the Nez Perce Tribe Communications Department at email@example.com (208)621-4772.
Can I view the film online?
The film is not currently available for online viewing, it is set to air on PBS in November and will be available for online viewing at that time.