David Close, CTUIR member, has made a brilliant career from his enjoyment of fishery work. He is now relating pure science to the traditional food, the lamprey eel– héesu (Nimíiputimtki) or ksúyas (Sahaptin). It’s inspiring that someone who didn’t think he had academic potential as an adolescent bloomed into a full-blown scholar. Motivation grew out of his work on the river. That’s true of other CTUIR native scientists such as Gene and Cheryl Shippentower, fish biologist and botanist respectively. The fieldwork came first, then the drive to get through school. Here’s the latest Winds of Change article that profiles one of our own.
The tribes have been working to revive the species in our rivers. The lamprey eel has been a creature of interest since baby eels are so much more delectable to salmon predators, strong, rich, and oily. The river tribes used the dried eel tail as a baby teether or pacifier. Eating eel is rather an acquired taste. The old folks still wish for it.