Until We Meet Again, Spokane Tribe


Well, off we go today.  We have to say so long to the Spokane Tribe.  I will surely miss these kind folks, but I think I’d like to sneak back for the pow-wow.  We had a beautiful feast before we left for home.  I hope it is not many moons until I see Warren, our host.

        The elders that gathered today spoke of times when they were young and knew of salmon abundance.  Their forefathers knew great wealth of fish, in which the whole community would partake.  The beautiful smiles that were shared with genuine concern and care uplifted my heart.  I feel a deep appreciation for my Longhouse family in Rock Creek and Toppenish, and my children at home.  Our people have learned to endeavor great loss and hardship.  When you look at people around the world in turmoil, it is so refreshing to have people to share the times.  Atwawashamash!SAM_1367

Strap on Your Zapper


  • SAM_1371SAM_1377It became quickly evident that the Spokane Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources had many hats to wear.  Forestry workers are sometimes on loan to other departments, like agriculture and fisheries.
  • Spokane Tribe resource management teams keep each other well informed so each department doesn’t waste time in coalition.
  • Next, it was time to strap on a zapper, to collect small fish for transport to the lake.  Fish were collected and moved further downstream, as Spokane Tribe’s Biologists attempt to enhance their fish survival.
  • White Swan students were eager to scoop up fish, with or without the zapper.  The zapper emits a small charge to inhibit the fish momentarily.  It allowed the students to collect fry in buckets, transport the fish to a tank, then move the fish closer to the lake.


White Swan student Chance Jackson suits up.

Let’s Talk Horses

SAM_1290“The CTWS also takes the stand that the horse continues to be held in high regard as a culturally significant animal that has directly contributed to the overall prosperity of the Warm Springs People.  Committed to exploring and implementing a number of options to reduce the number of horses on the reservation, the CTWS has, with limited success, offered for the last nine years, a public auction of horses, and has an ongoing castration program.”- Jason smith, Range and Agriculture Manager

The horses the range riders were riding were very resilient and did their job well.  It takes a dedicated rider and a strong horse to round up another horse.  The fact that range riders live in such an intertwined existence with their four legged friends, is proof of their commitment to their task, sustainable horse management.  I hope to work with them in the future, and that they meet their needs.

Jason Smith, Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Jason Smith, Director of Range and Agriculture

Traveling by the Seat of Your Pants

SAM_1295A huge element to our trip has been logistics.  This has been met by our fearless leader, and the cooperation of all the facilitators and students.  The act of interaction has allowed us to adapt in a collective collage of learning.  Ideas are shared frankly and casually and our learning continues.  The necessity of the student to the teacher and the teacher to the student is a timeless anomaly and I am glad for it.


Umatilla Bound: Heart of Glass

Sunday, we drove out of Deschutes National Forest and headed for Pendleton.  We were greeted by renowned artist, Levita Red Elk.  She gave us an outstanding lesson in glass art, and let us do our own piece!  The class was fast paced, for me, because I have never worked with glass as a medium for art.  Levita was very patient and accommodating,as I made it through my attempt at creativity.  Her generosity was evident in her ability to share her connection to her artwork with her pupils.  The works she has done stand as a testimonial to the power of imagination.Ikuk shix'wa






Mechanical Mitigation

SAM_1332This lecture was given by Colin McGuigan.  Mr. McGuigan explained that underbrush burning was necessary to prevent catastrophic wildfire.  Much must be cleared even before burning can take place.  Traffic may sometimes have to be diverted and animals are taken into account.  The area Mr. Guigan showed us covered about 6,000 acres.  The clearance of about four feet up the trunks of trees can mitigate the ability of wild fires to spread.  The movement from high velocity wildfire to these mitigated areas is loosely called “nuked”.

After the lecture, we went to Tumalo Falls Trailhead and then we hiked to the overlook.  It was a nice jaunt up the path and all the students had fun.  We were treated with an excellent view!SAM_1322

Students Beating the Bush



The project background: 1979 Bridge Creek Fire, timber salvage,stream restoration, fuels reduction, aspen enhancement, and City of Bend Watershed.    We also had a good look at the creek that the forest service had restored from fire and flood damage.  Students got just a little taste of the work that goes into management of forest foliage.  I  would not have thought that sometimes it is better for the overall health of the forest to pull out a few trees.  Such was the case on this day as we hustled through the field (We were supposed to be in a straight line!).  We pulled out knapweed and Lodgepole pine trees in a creek meadow.  Students wrestled with growing tree saplings and learned about noxious weeds.  Noxious weeds are plant bullies that threaten the overall health of the whole bunch.

Thank You, Warm Springs

SAM_1275Our stay in Warm Springs was highlighted by a stop at “the Museum at Warm Springs”.  The staff gave us an excellent overview of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.  A tribal elder took us on a beautiful journey, beginning with her baby board.  The board itself fell off of the back of a logging truck and turned into her baby board.  She told us of the livelihood of range riding, which was the way in which her father served her people.  She spoke of the health of her people and their teachings, which is intertwined with the overall health of the land.

We said goodbye to our friends in Warm Springs, and promise continued solidarity of purpose in the future.  Atawashamash!