In the Northwest, where thousands of people have rallied to save salmon, the salmon are helping young, at-risk Native Americans. The Salmon Corps - a partnership of five tribes, the federal Americorps, the city of Portland, government agencies and several corporations - trains Native Americans, aged 18 to 25, in stream restoration work, while they earn up to $4,750 a year for college. Participants in the program spend at least 1,700 hours a year planting native vegetation along stream banks, moving woody debris into salmon habitat and placing salmon eggs in the headwaters of streams. "The river tribes refer to us as Wakanish Naknoowee Thluma, which means Keepers of the Salmon," says Chuck Sams, the Northwest director for Earth Conservation Corps, the parent group of the Salmon Corps. Almost 40 percent of Salmon Corps graduates start the program without high school diplomas and, of those participants, 75 percent complete their high school degrees as a corps member, he says. Many Salmon Corps graduates become tribal wildlife technicians or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hatcheries technicians. Each summer, about 100 Indian and non-Indian people are selected from the local area unless vacant positions allow organizers to choose from regional or national applicants.
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