Kayla Carpenter & Erika Chase
Friends since the fourth grade, Erika and Kayla were always active in their hometown of 4,000 people. They both worked on their school yearbook, participated in the Youth Tribal Council, and organized a Salmon Run Relay to raise awareness about the plight of the nearby rivers and the fish populations that depend on them. According to Erika and Kayla, more and more water from the Klamath and Trinity rivers was being used to grow strawberries, barley and other crops that require dams and heavy irrigation. As a result, the water tables grew low, and the salmon, sturgeon and trout populations rapidly dwindled. “If the river isn’t healthy for the salmon it’s not going to be healthy for us,” said Kayla. The Salmon Run Relay, beginning at the mouth of the Klamath and traveling upstream, mimicked the salmon span to the Trinity. In addition to raising awareness about the rivers, the Salmon Run Relay also educated the community about their native diet and culture by holding a salmon ceremony based on the ancient rituals of the Yurok, Hupa and Karuk Indian tribes. Erika and Kayla organized town hall meetings and distributed pamphlets at the Relay to further their efforts to unite cultures, promote health and get people politically involved.