Kermit Bacon talks about the Agai Spirit during the Trauma & Grief Workshop.
By ROSELYNN WAHTOMY
FORT HALL – “Healing With Our Agai Spirit” was the theme of the Trauma and Grief Workshop on February 15 at the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel.
Coinciding with the theme was a presentation on the Agai Journey, given by Lytle Denny and Kermit Bacon.
Denny described the fish as the epitome of resilience because they go through several obstacles to complete their lifecycles.
“To me, I’m just amazed at the challenges they overcome,” he said.
There are many traumas they have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Denny described the growth a salmon and started from egg stage. The female salmon has anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 eggs. They need to lay a lot of eggs that must face a lot of predators. About 80 percent of those are fertilized and are buried in the gravel. The eggs develop and are susceptible to predators. Sometime in March the fish start popping up out of the gravel. They enter the fresh water environment and they disperse to look for habitats where they can find food and seek refuge.
Once they get to the point where they can handle the stream flow they start entering the main calm of the water and start getting more aggressive and seeking out bigger territories. All the while dealing with predators.
A year or so goes by in the fresh water and decide to head to the Pacific Ocean. The journey takes a month or two months. They live out of the ocean from a year to five years depending on the species. The cues signal them to come back to their own land. For the most part they are able to find their Native tributaries. Some of them even go back to the same place they were born and build their own nest.
Some of the trauma they deal with that impedes the population from being self sustaining includes hatcheries, disease, genetic issues, if one gets sick all can get sick in a small area, it has impacts to wild fish.
“It’s completely survival at it’s greatest,” said Denny. Adding every different life stage from egg to adult has to deal with predators. With all the challenges, just like Native people they can relate. There’s an impact when getting through dams too where they have to find fish ladders. Every dam the fish go through only so many make it.
The fish are dealing with habitat issues and the human element is another factor.
Bacon talked about the teachings from the elders. His grandpa told him everything has life and wants to live, even rocks.
Bacon said just like the again, people struggle too. As people we help one another to get through hard times. He said when we make decisions to feel better we have to choose that. He also believes in exercise and being out hunting, fishing and gathering.
“We need to get out and be active and choose to feel good and be vibrant. We have to be like the salmon, they can’t just sit around,” said Bacon.