The Oneida Indian Nation Annual Salmon Feast:
Salmon Fishing in CNY on Fish Creek, Taberg NY
New York State has ranked Fish Creek as one of its highest priorities in the Open Space Plan. Salmon from 12"-18" are commonly caught but the current record stands at a whopping 26".
The following is a description of the annual fishing feast of the Oneida Indians at the forks on Fish Creek taken verbatim from Annals and Recollections of Oneida County, by Pomeroy Jones, 1851. The forks are located in what is now known as Blossvale, in the southern portion of Annsville where the East branch and the West branch of Fish Creek meet.
The annual fishing feast was held in the spring of the year, when the leaves on the trees had acquired the size of a fox's ear. In their estimation, it was an occasion of importance, and was conducted with much ceremony. Every family in the tribe was expected to be present by one or more representatives. When the whole party had convened, operations were commenced by driving a row of stakes across the stream just below the fishing ground, and filling the interstices with brush so as to entirely prevent the escape of fish. Then they went quite a distance above the fishing ground and by various devices searched out and drove all the salmon down to the ground selected. Then another row of stakes and brush like the first was placed across the stream above the fish. All being thus made ready the taking of the fish commenced. The old men, women and children were stationed at the lower obstruction and along the mar-gin of the stream to secure the wounded and dying fish, while the more effective portion of the party, with spears and sharpened stakes, commenced taking their now doomed captives. Their aim was to spear them and carry them ashore, but, from the imperfection of their instruments they more frequently failed than were successful and the securing of the wounded at the lower weir was an operation full as exciting to the old men and boys as was the spearing to the fishermen in the stream above.
When all were taken that were within the enclosure, which frequently amounted to hundreds, the cooking feasting commenced. It was emphatically a feast of "first fruits" and lasted until all were satisfied with the boiled, roasted and broiled. The remains were apportioned to each family in the tribe according to its number.
Note: Due to the later construction of canals and dams, salmon disappeared from Fish Creek. In 1997, the Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Fish Club re-introduced salmon fry to the waters of the East Branch of Fish Creek.