Sunday, April 19, 2009


Bloggers note: I previously transcribed a post from Sammy C. Lyon in January, 2008 in which he talked about the federal government issuing a death warrant for Sammy and his kind. I saw Sammy the other day while kayaking the Columbia River near Portland, and I could tell right away that he was very upset. Following is the post he dictated to me.

This is Sammy C. Lyon, resident of the Pacific Ocean. My family and friends are grieving over the death of my Uncle, Jack. C. Lyon. Uncle Jack was my favorite uncle, ever since I was a pup. He always told the best stories of his exploits along the eastern coast of the Pacific Ocean, his visits to California, his occasional trips to Canada and Alaska, and his discovery of the great salmon feed up the Columbia River at the Bonneville Dam. It was Uncle Jack who first told us the oral histories of our clan, going back in time to the days when the coasts were dark with huge trees, when food was plentiful, including millions of salmon, and the Machines had not yet been seen. Our ancestors, Uncle Jack told us, lived up and down the coast in great numbers, living off the bounty of nature. He told us about how our ancestors swam up the mighty river, now known as the Columbia, to follow the salmon, and gathered at the base of the Great Waterfalls to feed on the fat fish. The First People were also there, sharing the fat salmon with us. But the Great Waterfalls disappeared one day, so the story is told, and our ancestors could no longer feed there.

It was Uncle Jack who helped re-discover the salmon feast up the Great River. He and some friends decided to go up the river about 10 years ago, following some salmon. They made a great discovery, what they at first thought was the Great Waterfalls, where many, many fat salmon were gathered, trying to go further upstream. We now know that this place they discovered is called Bonneville Dam, something built by the Machine Builders; but as far as we're concerned, it is like the Great Waterfalls, a place for the annual salmon feed.

Uncle Jack was captured by the Machine Builders a few years ago, and was branded on his back with the symbols C265. This was very embarrassing for Uncle Jack, and he was never quite the same afterwards, tending to keep to himself as much as possible. I went up to the Bonneville Dam with Uncle Jack a few times. The salmon were fat and plentiful, and we ate our fill. But it wasn't as fun as I thought it would be. The Machine Builders kept throwing things at us that made loud noises, and they shot things at us that hurt if we got hit. It's almost as if the Machine Builders don't want to share the salmon with us like the First People did.

The last time I saw Uncle Jack, he was caught in some kind of trap and couldn't get out. We all tried to get it open, but it was no use. Then the Machine Builders came and took Uncle Jack away - we haven't seen him since, and we think he's dead.

I don't understand why the Machine Builders are so selfish; after all, they catch and eat thousands more salmon than we do every year. Some of my other friends and relatives have disappeared after being caught in those traps, and it scares me. We're just doing what we've done for millennia - it's the Machine Builders who have changed so many things in our world.

I only wish the Machine Builders understood us better, and I wish they had taken time to get to know Uncle Jack - but the truth is, I don't think they really know Jack.

[bloggers note: Jack C. Lyon was killed by federal officials in March after being trapped below the Bonneville Dam. His skeleton was saved for research; the rest of him was shipped to a rendering plant in Tacoma, Washington.]

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