Borders, decline of salmon explained in faculty lecture

Lissa Wadewitz, assistant professor of history and environmental studies at Linfield College, will present “The Nature of Borders: Salmon, Boundaries and Bandits in the Salish Sea” Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall at Linfield.

Wadewitz will discuss her new book, to be released next spring, which explores how the border between British Columbia and Washington state led to the decline of the salmon runs – from fish so abundant they filled the region’s rivers from bank to bank to today’s status as an endangered species. The book has also been accepted into the prestigious Emil and Kathleen Sick Series, which specializes in publications about the U.S. West and will be co-published in Canada by the UBC Press.

Border-drawing has been critical to how the Salish Sea salmon fisheries between Washington State and British Columbia have been managed over time. Native peoples drew specific types of access borders around their fishery that worked to conserve salmon. The later Anglo-American border, in contrast, ignored salmon geographies and created a bifurcated, messy fishery that defied easy regulation. The international border fostered infighting between Canadians and Americans, created conditions ripe for salmon smuggling and fish pirating and ultimately thwarted transnational conservation policies.

Wadewitz has been at Linfield since 2007. She has a bachelor’s in Asian studies from Pomona College and a master’s and Ph.D. in history from the University of California at Los Angeles. Her academic interests include U.S. environmental history (and related topics), history of the U.S. West, Native American history and U.S. women’s history.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Linfield College faculty lecture series offers one presentation each month by a member of the Linfield faculty. For more information, call 503-883-2409.