Cultural Ethic to Restore and Care for Fish - Duty & Obligation
The Creator placed the Nimiipúu here in this land and instructed them on how to use, honor, respect, and be humbled by it. Because the earth and its natural resources have always provided for the Nimiipúu well-being with physical and spiritual sustenance, the Nimiipúu owe an obligation to the earth and its resources to protect and preserve them forever. Future generations will only be able to enjoy the land and resources if the decisions and actions that the present-day people, both Indian and non-Indian, are made with sustainability and stewardship
To use the land and its resources wisely, one must know of the important intrinsic values that emanate from them. If people recognize and understand the interconnectedness of the land, its resources, and themselves as human users, then it is possible that a respect and humbleness may transcend from this ecological wisdom. Therefore, our role is to not just use and maintain this land and its resources, but to ensure that the ecological cycles are self-perpetuating.
The concept that it is our commitment to care for the Creator’s gifts so that they are ‘usable’ for the present and more importantly, for future generations, is captured in the following statement:
“We did not inherit this earth or its natural resources
from our ancestors, we are only borrowing
them from our children’s children; therefore, we are
duty bound and obligated to protect them and use
them wisely until such time that they get here, and
then they will have the same obligations.”
~Eugene Greene, Sr. quote from Columbia River Inter-Tribal
Fish Commission (1995).
This underlying ethical philosophy provides a foundation for all fishery managers to shape comprehensive
salmon restoration programs in the Columbia Columbia River Basin.
Consistent with this stewardship theme, the Nez Perce Tribe has voluntarily reduced fishing on salmon and steelhead that were in decline; it has supported the breaching of the dams so that fish may migrate up and down the river unimpeded; and it has instituted scientifically and biologically sound recovery actions for fish. These actions are all taken to benefit the fishery resources and the surrounding ecosystem into the future.
A theme central to the Department's programs will be the inclusion of a salmon restoration ethic that encompasses the following elements:
- An appreciation of the earth and its natural resources;
- The duties and obligations in fisheries management;
- The concept of future generations; and
- Guidance on how to use the land and resources wisely.
All are basic ethical elements that should be shared by any fishery manager to help protect and restore fishery resources for broader social and ecological benefits.