Kokanee Film

In recent years, the Tribe has committed to increasing our efforts around protecting our special little red fish, the Lake Sammamish Kokanee salmon.  These salmon provided our people with a food source and made it possible for us to live year-round at Lake Sammamish.  The kokanee were once plentiful with three distinct runs – now with only one run left, the kokanee struggle to survive.  Once in the thousands, their numbers have drastically dropped and in 2018, there were only 19 returning to spawn.  Emergency actions were enacted to save these fish from the brink of extinction.

The Snoqualmie Tribe has participated in the Kokanee Work Group (KWG) since its inception in 2007.  In 2017, the KWG commissioned a documentary film to encapsulate and share the current emergency efforts being made to save the Lake Sammamish Kokanee.  The Spawning Grounds documentary illustrates the culmination of the last three years of collaborative work, the Tribe’s history, cultural and spiritual connection to the lake while we work to bring awareness to the plight of the kokanee.

The KWG found Nils Cowan with Hemlock Productions to make this documentary.  With care, Nils took time to better understand the Tribe’s connection to Lake Sammamish and the kokanee.  He quickly understood the importance of telling the Tribe’s story alongside the kokanee and was able to weave together our unique Snoqualmie story alongside our unique little red fish.  This is an uplifting journey bringing our little red fish home and reconnecting the Snoqualmie people to our lake.  We uplift one another and together we will help the kokanee thrive.

Spawning Grounds premiered in North Bend and Seattle in January and February 2020.

Watch the Spawning Grounds Trailer:

Want to watch Spawning Grounds?

Tribal members, contact McKenna Sweet Dorman to get link and access code to watch the film. You can reach her by email at



“Working with the local community and the Snoqualmie Tribe on Spawning Grounds has been one of the most rewarding filmmaking experiences of my career. It has opened up a world of education and storytelling opportunities. We are thrilled that the film is being included in school curriculum in the watershed.”

Nils Cowan


Read the Seattle Weekly Article

“Spawning Grounds: Lake Sammamish kokanee documentary premieres Jan. 18”

Kokanee Workbook

In 2020, the Tribe’s ENR and Communications Departments produced a Kokanee Workbook. To view and download the book, click below.

Kokanee Story Map

In 2020, the Tribe produced a special story map to capture the work being done by the Snoqualmie Tribe and other partners, to help restore the kokanee population in Lake Sammamish.

Kokanee Release 2019: