Measuring Socio-Cultural Values Associated with Salmon in the Quinault Indian Nation

A 2014 report describes a study of socio-cultural values associated with blueback salmon in the Quinault Indian Nation. The blueback salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) is a unique strain of sockeye that returns primarily to the Quinault river system.

Sockey salmon. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
Sockey salmon. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Executive Summary

Quinault culture is deeply tied to the health and abundance of local salmon.  To enhance abundance, the Quinault Indian Nation is pursuing strategies such as hatchery development and engineered log jams to support fish habitat.  While we can measure the extent to which these projects enhance fish, we may also be interested in understanding how such projects enhance Quinault culture and wellbeing related to salmon.  This project sought to identify Quinault socio-cultural values related to salmon and their appropriate measures.
We interviewed eighteen adults in the Quinault Indian Nation and two high school classrooms to better understand the diverse values associated with salmon by men and women, youth and elders. Data from the interviews were coded into six value types: Cultural values, Social values, Economic values, Psychological health, Physical health, and Governance associated with fisheries management, identified on the outer edges of the image below.   
Based on these identified values, we then developed potential questions to measure the status of
each socio-cultural value, represented as the petals in the image to the left.  We tested these questions in a community workshop, an online survey and anin-person household survey.  A total of 26 people responded to the survey questions.  The length of the petals in the image represent the relative status of different aspects
of wellbeing related to salmon for these respondents. NOTE: The survey respondents were not necessarily from a representative sample of QIN members.  Thus, these exact measures might not be accurate for the entire community.
The purpose of identifying values and creating questions to measure their status is to help understand how salmon enhancement projects influence Quinault culture and wellbeing.  If we ask these questions every few years, we can see changes in socio-cultural relationships to salmon and distinguish whether such changes are
a result of increasing salmon abundance, or whether they are actually due to other factors.  Additionally, we can use these measures to consider the potential socio-cultural impacts of different salmon enhancement strategies. Ideally, we would try to find a solution that enhances the diversity of all values associated with salmon so as to maintain socio-cultural, ecological and economic health.


Biedenweg, K., Amberson, S., & James, J. (2014). Measuring Socio-Cultural Values Associated with Salmon in the Quinault Indian Nation. Puget Sound Institute, Tacoma, Washington.

Download the report