Steh-Chass Native Youth Camp

Steh-Chass Youth Camp

2019 Steh-Chass Youth Camp FlyerAugust 5th, 6th, and 7th (10:00 am- 5:00 pm)
Location August 5th and 6th: Heritage Park (Capitol Lake)- Downtown Olympia
Location August 7th: Historical Capitol Theater- Downtown Olympia
Ages 11-14
30 Spots Available (Native youth are given priority registration)

Camp Overview

Indigenous cultures naturally make the connection between science, nature, and art. In current times, teachers and curriculum coordinators are engaged in adding art to the formal STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) model to encompass our relationship to the world in terms of design, poetry and story-telling, music and visual arts. In this approach, students make connections and examine their expressions through art and nature in the real world. This responds to the need to address current problems such as climate change with creativity, innovation, and ingenuity and to learn from local tribal history and cultures that have been evolving for centuries.

The Essential Question youth will be answering through the WHY Climate Change Project is “How do I use science and art to inform climate change solutions, decisions, and ideas in the Steh-Chass – Deschutes Watershed – and help implement water quality and wildlife protection strategies and restore the estuary?

Tribal Youth participating in this climate change project will:

  1. Develop a sense of place based in the Steh-Chass – the Deschutes Watershed.
    Youth will build a sense of connection to their place by learning about their watershed, understanding where the Deschutes River is, where it’s estuary was and how it impacts their daily life. Additionally, students will understand how human communities impact the watershed.
  2. Build a scientific understanding of how a watershed works.
    Youth will engage in Science, Engineering and Art Practices, and utilize Crosscutting Concepts (Next Generation Science Standards) to learn about the Deschutes Watershed, and build a local base of scientific understanding in their local watershed with a focus on climate change.
  3. Become critical thinkers, with the capacity to use scientific understanding to make personal and policy decisions.
    Youth will learn and practice using scientific understanding to inform their decision making, specifically by understanding and applying the Science, Art, and Engineering Practices (NGSS) as they investigate the Deschutes Watershed and solutions to climate change impacts. Youth will become knowledgeable about water quality and develop ideas to mitigate climate change impacts to estuary restoration, salmon, Orca and forage fish health, and all ecosystem connections. They will engage the Deschutes TMDL Implementation Plan and Tribal priorities to find projects.
  4. Experience nature as a teacher of science and use science as the basis for art. Nisqually and Squaxin Tribal Youth will learn about the history, culture, and art of the local tribes of the Steh-Chass region. They will learn about and experience a connection with nature as a teacher, innovator, and designer.

Youth Camp Registration

Limited spots are available for the three-day youth camp. Use the online registration form to get signed up. Contact Ali Johnson  for more information.

sčədadxʷ Video

sčədadxʷ (salmon) is an animated short featuring Billy Frank Jr. that takes the viewer up the river through the eyes of the salmon showing its pristine environment; its connection to the Pacific Northwest People; the arrival of the settlers; habitat degradation; the unification of people throughout the world working together to save salmon and salmon habitat.

sčədadxʷ was produced by Injunuity, a Native Owned Production Company in Oakland California. Injunuity is a collage of reflections on the Native American world, our shared past, our turbulent present, and our undiscovered future.
To view more of their work

Our Sponsors

  • Nisqually Indian Tribe
  • Tulalip Tribes
  • Squaxin Island Tribe
  • Suquamish Tribe
  • Shoalwater Bay Tribe

 “When the salmon are healthy we are healthy,” Billy Frank Jr.

Keep up-to-date on Salmon Defense projects and news by joining our mailing list using the short form below.

The Billy Frank Jr. Day Curriculum

Billy Frank Jr. played an instrumental role in the Fish Wars of the 1960s and 1970s, culminating in the landmark Boldt decision that affirmed tribal fishing rights.

To celebrate Billy’s life, many have dedicated his birthday, March 9th, as Billy Frank Jr. Day.

A curriculum is in development for aiding teacher’s in educating others about the life and accomplishments of Billy Frank Jr. and how he fought for the salmon and the rights of treaty tribes. Use the form below to access the collection of curriculum files, which includes lesson plans, videos and presentations.

  • You will be emailed links to the curriculum files.

Contact Salmon Defense with any quesions or for more information.

Boldt 40: a day of perspectives on the Boldt Decision

The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission & Salmon Defense hosted an event, “Boldt 40,” a day of perspectives on the Boldt Decision, on February 5, 2014 at the Skookum Creek Event Center, Squaxin Island Tribe, Shelton, WA.

Blogs posts and videos recordings of the event can be found at

As Long As The Rivers Run

Preserving a documentary film about the struggle for treaty fishing rights

as-long-as-the-rivers-run-screenshotSalmon Defense acquired the rights to “As Long as the Rivers Run,” a film that documents the Fish Wars of the late 1960s to early 1970s. The film was directed by Carol Burns and co-produced by Hank Adams.

Norma Frank is arrested on the banks of Nisqually River for exercising her treaty fishing rights. Photo Courtesy NWIFC

The “As Long as the Rivers Run” project is aimed at conserving and redistributing the film as an educational tool. Salmon Defense updated and repackaged the film by digitally re-mastering it to meet today’s digital standards, and it has been distributed to tribes, schools and others.

The movie is available on DVD by request as well as streaming at YouTube or through the Internet Archive.

Tribal Voices Archive

The Tribal Voices Archive Project was created as a digital audio and video collection primarily featuring tribal members from the U.S. vs. Washington case area. The purpose of the archive is to collect perspectives on tribal life before, during and after the 1974 U.S. vs. Washington litigation that upheld tribal treaty fishing rights. This ongoing project is hosted online at: and

Back To The River

From our collection of extensive interviews with the people involved in the Fishing Wars plus added interviews, we compiled an hour-long video called “Back to the River.” It is designated as a companion video to “As Long as the Rivers Run” to help today’s viewers understand the struggle for recognition of tribal treaty fishing rights and to share the experience through their eyes. The film bridges the gap of misunderstanding by educating the public about this vital time period that shaped Pacific Northwest history and helped open doors to many tribes throughout the United States.

February 1, 2013 marked the release of “Back to the River” which premiered at the Seattle Aquarium. Guests received copies of “Back to the River” and “As Long as the Rivers Run.” From there we have continued a touring roll-out of “Back to the River” at different reservations.

Back to the River tells the story of the treaty rights struggle from the pre-Boldt era to tribal and state co-management. The movie includes the voices and personal accounts of tribal fishers, leaders and others active in the treaty fishing rights struggle.

You can now view “Back to the River” in its entirety online:

Back to the River from Salmon Defense on Vimeo.

Salmon Defense is very thankful to the BACK TO THE RIVER SPONSORS who made this project possible.

  • Nisqually Indian Tribe
  • Lummi Nation
  • Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe
  • Muckleshoot Indian Tribe
  • Squaxin Island Tribe
  • Tulalip Tribes
  • Quinault Indian Nation
  • Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians
  • Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe
  • Skokomish Tribal Nation
  • Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Shadow Of The Salmon

“Shadow of the Salmon” is a timely docudrama produced by Salmon Defense, distributed with strong tribal support to middle schools across the state (along with the accompanying teachers’ guide, produced by Steve Robinson, Dr. Kyra Nourse, Dr. Michael Pavel and the Pacific Educational Institute). Sessions are now being organized to help support teachers’ efforts to use the film and curriculum effectively in the classroom.

Shadow of the Salmon Resource Guide for 8th Grade Teachers

The story of a young man from Lakota Nation who comes to the Pacific Northwest to visit his Coastal Salish relatives. During his visit, he experiences many things and learns much about salmon and the Northwest environment. He witnesses the annual Canoe Journey and helps respond to an oil spill in the river.

Shadow of the Salmon from Salmon Defense on Vimeo.

© 2007 Three Sixty Productions

Shadow of the Salmon is presented by Three Sixty Productions in association with

Riparian Habitat

Why focus on riparian protection and recovery?

riparian-billy-quoteRiparian ecosystems perform important functions that affect salmon and other aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. Riparian forests filter sediment and pollutants from stormwater runoff that would otherwise enter the stream system. The forest also reduces erosion – the roots hold soil in place, and the forest reduces flooding by slowing the flow of rain and flood waters. Riparian forests provide nutrients and food (by dropping organic matter), and shade to streams (through overhanging vegetation). As trees die, the forest contributes large woody debris to the river system. Cold, clear water is essential for Pacific salmon survival.

It is important to understand the complexity of healthy stream systems essential to salmon during their freshwater stages of life. Stream health is closely and intricately tied to the surrounding area, the riparian habitat. The aquatic habitat interacts with its healthy riparian corridor within the watershed, in turn promoting ecosystem diversity within its healthy stream habitat.

Native riparian vegetation protects the stream from erosion, temperature extremes and pollutants. Marine nutrients from migrating salmon are used by preying species and insects, benefiting both terrestrial and aquatic food webs. Healthy native riparian areas provide vegetation and large woody debris that create protection and feeding areas, and resting pools for salmon.

The Stream Table

salmon-defense-stream-table-water-festivalThe Salmon Defense interactive “Stream Table” is designed to teach how a river system functions and to see how human activities change the river and its ability to support fish, clean water and a functioning ecosystem.

The Salmon Defense “Stream Table” can be found at various community events. Recently events include:

  • Stillaguamish Tribe’s Festival of the River and Pow Wow. This is a wonderful event initiated by the Stillaguamish Tribe 24 years ago to help people who live and work in the surrounding regions understand how their actions can help make their environment healthier for people, fish and wildlife. It is a celebration of the river and its people.
  • Salmon Homecoming Celebration
  • Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail