Salmon gill and Camas

​These patterns derive from the basketry of Central Washington and the Columbia River area. Yellow 'Stair steps up the mountain' frame the fine red lines of 'Salmon gill'. Toward the end of the salmon's journey upriver to spawn, they rest in the shallower current by propping themselves against stones or branches with their gill covers. These are rubbed raw as they pursue their suicide mission to spawn the next generation. All the animals and birds feed on the live or dead carcasses of the fish, fertilizing the ground throughout the watershed with their droppings.
 This delivers vital nutrients to the wild Camas fields in the harsh dry landscape of eastern Washington, Idaho and Oregon. The design at the center of this piece is called Camas. This tuberous root is a staple of the traditional diet, harvested after a lavish display of blue flowers each spring. The pattern is actually a diagram of how the roots grow underground.