The Dolly Varden: Salvelinus malma
These are western trout ranging from Northwest Alaska to Northern California and are our only native char. These fish can get as long as three feet and weigh twenty pounds. They are great sport fish, putting up a good fight. They live in fresh and salt water but cold water is important for their health especially when spawning. The dramatic color and crimson spots come with the hormonal change that occurs during spawning inspiring their name. Dolly Varden was a Dickens character who was known for her bright and colourful dresses. Unlike other trout Dolly Varden may live to reproduce a second and sometimes (though rarely) a third time.
The Northern Crow (Corvus caurinus) of The Raven Family
Along the west coast and Puget Sound we have this distinct species. There are over 41 species in the Corvid Family including ravens, magpies and jays. Crows are clever omnivores and spawning salmon provide a huge meal. A female crow likes to attend her chicks (quite often four) in a nest about 60ft. (18.29 meters) up, an old growth conifer is preferred. Both males and females build the I 1/2 feet X2 feet diameter (.5 meter X .6 meter) twig and moss nest. Usually located in the crook of a tree branch or next to the trunk, the nests are extremely hard to find and once abandoned they are often re-inhabited by owls and hawks. Incredibly, one or more juvenile crows often stay throughout the following nesting season helping out by bringing food and guarding their siblings.
Although a popular figure in many Pacific Northwest coastal tribes (from Alaska to Washington state) the Raven is especially predominant in the tales of the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian. Raven to them is the original organizer, trickster and transformer to name a few. During the long winters secret societies within the tribes performed dances, which told complex tales using elaborate headdresses, which opened and closed. The Raven dancer was a favorite performer in many dances and still is in ceremonies today. My totems are of some of these raven tales one of which is an Inuit legend which credits crow for bringing sunlight to them.