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Salmon People

Salmon People

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  • Artist:
  • Margaret August
  • Edition Size:
  • 140 signed and numbered, 14 artist's proofs, 2 printer's proofs
  • Paper Size:
  • 25 x 76 cm, 10 x 30 inches
  • Publication Year:
  • 2023

Salmon People is a limited edition screen print by Margaret August. The design shows a Coast Salish house post with the face of the moon at the top. The lower part of the design pays tribute to the artist's homeland, where salmon migrate in unison, ensuring prosperity and abundance.

House posts were often intricately carved to reflect the values and standing of the home. Margaret adds, "Coast Salish traditions have honoured wooden carved house post figures. In pre-contact times, house posts represented mythical creatures associated with family history including magical privileges of the family, notable ancestors or events that displayed ancestors' spirit powers. They were placed in the large winter houses and sometimes outside declaiming the long history, wealth and high status of the family."

Margaret August’s contemporary version of Salmon People, depicts an abstract, supernatural moon face that embodies feminine energies. The moon face unveils a person’s inner wisdom and intuition. The moon is often associated with women, when they are on their “moon time”, where their power is at its strongest. It is a time to cleanse herself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

For thousands of years, the salmon has been the primary food source for the First Nations of the Northwest coast. The salmon's cycle of life and sacrifice are honoured and celebrated by returning the bones to the water in special ceremonies. This allows the salmon people's spirits to return home and be reborn in human form. The annual return of the salmon thus assures the renewal and continuation of all life.


Margaret August is a contemporary, two-spirited, Coast Salish artist from Shíshálh Nation. Margaret was born in 1983 on traditional, unceded Lekwungen and Wasanec territories, where she currently resides.

Margaret feels that her ancestral power animal symbol, Skw’etu’?, influences her art. Skw’étu? is a word for Raven in Shashishalhem language. Skw’etu’? is known to be the light bringer in darkness. Origin stories say it was Raven that stole the sun from an old man who wanted to keep the world in darkness.

Ravens are the gatekeepers of the Void, where there is no form or structure, only fluidity and constant change. Skw’etu’? utilizes his abilities of mystical shape shifting to teach Earth’s inhabitants their individual life lessons.

Margaret began developing her artistic talents through singing and playing music at an early age. At the same time, she was learning how to create traditional Native art through Butch Dick.

Her artistic style is influenced by Susan Point, lessLIE, Chris Paul, Luke/John Marston, and Maynard Johnny Jr.

Margaret has been showing her work in community art shows since 2010. In 2013, she began to make prints and developing her business skills, which helped her in becoming an independent artist.

These varied art experiences, as well as ancestral gifts have shaped Margaret to better understand her life’s direction. Margaret’s overall philosophy as a contemporary Native artist is to present the community with art that creates change and a sense of hope.