Having been born into the salmon restoration movement, Pom, a Native American tribe leader in Northern California, is staking out how to use blockchain to revive the native species of Chinook salmon his community once relied on.
To do so, Pom and his team created a video game called Salmon Journeys on Decentraland, where users can catch Chinook salmon to win an exclusive non-fungible token (NFT) by Sawalmen, a Web3 entity that represents Indigenous spiritual values and raises funds for restoration efforts and the landback movement.
Pom’s goal with this game is to raise funds as well as awareness for actual salmon restoration efforts, he said. The game is part of an ongoing hackathon event, tied to CoinDesk's I.D.E.A.S. conference.
“Since the Shasta Dam was built 75 years ago, the salmon have been unable to return to their home waters in our ancestral watershed near Mt. Shasta, California,” Pom said. He added he's in discussions with Maori tribes in New Zealand to bring to California a related genetic descendant of the Chinook.
Pom, who also goes by his English name Michael Preston, wants the team’s NFTs to reflect the ecological situation in Northern California and to get the message out about the importance of salmon restoration. He’s not the only one focused on repairing the waterways, but said other salmon pilot projects on the McCloud River have faced a lack of funding.
Crypto is his way of bootstrapping efforts.
Pom first had the idea to combine blockchain with salmon restoration in March 2020. He wrote a rough draft of a white paper, which Pom calls a “Redpaper,” and earlier this year attended Web3athon, a crypto hackathon presented by CoinDesk and Crypto Research and Design Lab.
The Web3athon has helped Pom and his team get their project off the ground and into the spaces where they hope to gain more support and funding for Salmon Journey's full buildout.
Through the Web3athon Discord channel he met teammate Ayush Arora, a software engineer based in India, who is integral in making the Decentraland video game.
"It was hard at first for me. I'm like, wow, how are we going to do this?" Pom said. In Pom's eyes, the game is a great way to reach younger generations who have the power to make a great impact in salmon restoration efforts.
“The goal is to have this game tell our story in as many metaverses as possible so that people will hear about our efforts, have fun playing a cool game, win and gain value back for themselves, and support actual salmon returns to the McCloud River,” Pom said.
As a candidate in the Web3athon, Pom thinks he has a pretty solid minimum-viable product and a good chance of becoming the winner.
"We are persistent and we believe in what we're doing. We're just gonna do this, whether or not we're part of the hackathon." Pom said.
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