This report was originally published Sept. 23 as a front page Chronicle feature story.
--- You can tell that Fall is in
the air not just by the cool evenings and the start of the rainy season here in the foothills of the Cascade mountains.You know it's here by the annual Return of the Salmon
Celebration in Sultan. The event honors and commemorates the salmon that left
their birth river in Sultan as small fingerlings and are back now as adults to
spawn, continuing the circle of life.
This year the annual event is Sat. Sept. 26 from 11 am to 4
pm at Osprey Park, 801 First Street.
It's fun for the whole family and features vendors, educational
tours, native American culture, arts, music (flute concert and drumming and
round dance), story telling, horse drawn covered wagon rides to the high school
fish hatchery, a raffle and more.
There's also the 2nd annual 5K salmon run and 1 mile fast
walk that start at 10 am. Registration, with a $20 entry fee for the run ($10 for the
walk) is open from 9:15 to 9:55 am in Osprey Park. There will be prizes and commemorative
T-shirts. The course winds through the scenic river paths
in Osprey Park.
Festivities begin with a Native American welcoming ceremony
which features an honoring of Sultan’s namesake, Chief T’seul-ted whose statue has
been a fixture in Osprey Park for many years.
HISTORY BEHIND RETURN OF THE SALMON
The history of Sultan, a community where whites first settled
around 1880 but for centuries before that was settled by Native Americans, is
where water and salmon are forever linked to logging and mining in the valley.
In days gone by the Skykomish River, which runs
parallel to Sultan, was a major transportation, trade and supply corridor.
There were trade boats, fishing boats, pleasure
craft and transportation boats moving up and down the Skykomish much as cars do
now on State Route 2, the road to Stevens Pass, which itself runs parallel to
the town and the river.
Both the Sultan River and the town of Sultan
were named by white prospectors for the highly respected Chief of a Snohomish
sub-tribe that lived on the
Skykomish River in the 1870s.
His name was Tsul-tad or Tseul-tud, a name which
was anglicized by the miners of the time into "Sultan" as they could
not pronounce Tseul-tud.
To the white settlers he became known as Sultan
John or Chief John Sultan. The town and the area prospered during the 1870's
and beyond with gold discoveries as well as logging activities.
Throughout the community's early history both
new settlers and Native Americans depended upon the salmon in the Skykomish and
Sultan Rivers both for sustenance and for trade purposes. The salmon was a
giver and sustainer of life, an important partner in the cycle of life and
death for all living things.
The salmon was also a "marker" of home
Thus the community provides the special
remembrance called "Return
of the Salmon Celebration."
The festival is a the result of a partnership between the City of Sultan, the Tulalip Tribes, Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce, Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) and a committee of dedicated community volunteers.