Master of Arts degree with a major in Social Science, Environment and Community
Committee Chair Name
Dr. Laurie Richmond
Committee Chair Affiliation
HSU Faculty or Staff
Second Committee Member Name
Dr. Yvonne Everett
Second Committee Member Affiliation
HSU Faculty or Staff
Third Committee Member Name
Third Committee Member Affiliation
Community Member or Outside Professional
Environment and Community
Eulachon and Pacific lamprey fisheries of the Mad River are significant for Indigenous peoples of the region, but they remain data-poor and underfunded even though eulachon is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and Pacific lamprey is recognized as a species of concern by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The lower Mad River and Humboldt Bay region lie in the traditional territory of the Wiyot and are home to Indigenous people who have maintained subsistence eulachon and Pacific lamprey fisheries. This research primarily draws from 13 oral history interviews with local Indigenous people, 18 key informant interviews with experts in relevant fields, and archival research, to understand the historic and current state of eulachon and Pacific lamprey fisheries and the reciprocal socio-ecological relationships between fish, people, and the watershed. Oral histories demonstrate a strong cultural connection to the larger smelt family, including eulachon. Eulachon runs on the Mad and Eel Rivers were observed in the past, but not since the 1960s. Respondents recounted robust Pacific lamprey populations historically, numbers that gradually dwindled. Interviews uncovered important cultural connections to eulachon, Pacific lamprey, and other smelt species through stories of fishing, gathering, eating, and sharing. With their Native foods and resources largely controlled by U.S. governmental agencies, local tribes are persistent in their efforts to protect eulachon and Pacific lamprey. This research reveals how cultural connections to these species remain important, and the need for resource managers to expand research and restoration to include this overlooked river and these fish species.
Simpson, Kara Lindsay, "Overlooked fisheries of Baduwa’t: An oral history study exploring the environmental and cultural histories of eulachon and Pacific lamprey in the Mad River basin, a Wiyot watershed" (2019). Cal Poly Humboldt theses and projects. 337.