This article examines the social and political implications of the geographically widespread and cross-cultural oral narratives related to the releases of salmon into the rivers of the Pacific Northwest through the destruction of weir-dams. Key themes in these narratives provide insights into indigenous concepts of reciprocity and authority, which in turn reveal dimensions of social organization and intercommunity interactions from a new perspective. These narratives explicitly foreground the inevitable tensions between communities that relied on salmon and also sought to prioritize their own interests, seeking exclusive use of weirs, occasionally to the detriment of other groups. This study illustrates how these narratives convey episodes of contradictory interests, exploitation, social struggle, reconciliation, and a moral charter for communities over a broad area. The analysis also highlights how the messages of these narratives are just as pertinent today as they were in the past.

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