Cle Elum Returns – Dean Hall, Central Washington University
“Cle Elum Returns” is a tribute to the return of the Sockeye Salmon to Lake Cle Elum in the upper reaches of the Yakima River. At one time up to sixteen million salmon swam the Columbia River Basin annually. The Yakima River Basin Sockeye Salmon disappeared 100 years ago due to the construction of dams without fish ladders preventing the return to their natal stream where they were born. After heroic efforts to reintroduce Sockeye by the Yakama Nation, the Yakima River Basin will again see this species of salmon return. The first expected run of Yakima River Basin Sockeye will be in 2013. These plywood Sockeye cutouts are painted a “ghost” white, sanded and worn down similar to the salmon that once made this arduous journey from the Pacific Ocean back to Lake Cle Elum. They stand for the spirits of those that once swam this amazing cycle of life. The one red fish represents the hope for all those that will return this coming year and for all the years to follow.