Darrell Hillaire, a Lummi Nation elder, and grandfather of nine started Children of the Setting Sun Production (CSSP) over five years ago in order to tell the stories of the Coast Salish people while highlighting the Lummi people themselves. CSSP creates, shares, and educates the people they work with to influence one another’s perception in a positive light. They are currently working on a documentary on the Salmon People of the Pacific Coast as well as working to create a “Salmon People Alliance” to show how essential salmon are culturally to a number of different tribes throughout the Pacific Coast. The origins of CSSP are in a dance group his great grandfather formed in 1800; he has since taken it upon himself to tell stories to the area through dance and storytelling.
Darrell has emphasized the importance that salmon play both as a first indicator, miner’s canary, of ecological health and as a part of our interconnected world between people, the environment, and its inhabitants. To him, “Salmon are the most connected of all living things because of the way they live their lives.” They travel over long distances and come into contact with a litany of different species, giving life to the next generations as “they die and their body goes into the soil and the trees and it ends up back in us and we have to respect that.” He underscores the necessity for us to change in order to combat the growing climate crisis: “We feel that the values that the salmon people practice and live by are the values that everyone else should be living by. The political and scientific levels of work don’t work if we don’t change as a people. The narrative around solving the climate crisis is the narrative against capitalism which to the salmon people is the narrative of generosity.”
He believes that we can see real change through unity on issues regarding salmon and orca conservation. All people who care about these two keystone species must come together for the common goal of orca and Salmon restoration.