CIRI in the Community: Kenaitze and Salamatof Come Together to Celebrate Opening of the Net

Members of Kenaitze Indian Tribe (KIT) were ready to set the net during the Opening of the Net celebration on June 1. The eagles were ready, too.

“I like to see the eagles out,” said Chris Ross, pointing to eagles perched along the shore and on a rock a little way out into Cook Inlet. “They know, once we get a fish, we’ll toss them a carcass. Maybe they’ll leave a feather behind. My grandmother always said if you want an eagle feather, you’ve got to give them something, too.”

KIT and Salamatof tribal members celebrated fishing the first tide of the season and cut the ribbon on the new KIT Kahtnuht’ana Dena’ina Community Hall and Harvest Pavilion.

In her opening remarks, KIT Chair Ronette Stanton noted the importance of the fishery, which the Tribe has operated since 1989. In recognition of their partnership and unity, CIRI supported this summer’s Kenaitze and Salamatof educational fishery program with $10,000.

“The net preserves our culture and traditions and brings us together with our children and our Elders, creating a sense of unity, and represents resiliency of our people,” Stanton said.  Ross said he is grateful to have learned the techniques for picking fish from the net as a youth and looks forward to teaching the next generation when his family fishes the net later this summer.

Thank you to M. Scott Moon for contributing to this article and for the use of his beautiful photography!