All the people we met on our first day I would like to say thank you to each and every one of you—Edward Madrlee whom spoke about wildlife; Bill Matt Sr., whom spoke about salmon and the environmental aspect of the lands; Chad McRay, whom spoke about the objective of timber/wildlife; Twa-le Swan, whom spoke about the uranium filled pools on their reservation; to Jim Seylor “Jimbo”, who educated us on historic places on the reservation; and to the Interns of Natural resources.  Thank you to the whole Spokane Tribe for opening your door to us, and educating us on Spokane’s difficulties and solutions to them.  Last but not least Warren and his lovely wife Lisa Seyler thank you for sharing with us, you have inspired me to finish my BA in Criminal Justice and move straight into law school.  I truly pray the Creator will bless you and bring back the salmon to your tribe, and that he blesses you with a uranium free reservation.  Aho…


The Spokane Tribe is located in the Northeast part of Washington State on the Wellpinit reservation and is 159,000 acres.  There is about 2,817 enrolled members of the Spokane Tribe.  With many tribes,  people tend to think Treaties; however, this is not the case here.  Spokane is known as an executive order Tribe.  This came to a surprise to me as well.  They still have rights as any tribe but the only difference is they go through the State President.


Mission Statement of Natural Resources

Preserve, protect, manage and enhance the long term sustainability of the Natural Resources for present and future generations, through an interdisciplinary process by developing and implementing Best Management Practices.


On the Spokane reservation there is two uranium pools.  There is a cleanup plan that is still pending agreement. “The Midnite Mine operated from 1954 to 1964, and again from 1969 to 1981. As a result of the mining operations, 350 acres of land were disturbed, and numerous waste rock piles and two open mine pits are still present at the site.” As stated on Environment News Service.  I also witnessed the two mine sites, they are still there.


The mining company did not have the Tribes agreement to utilize their land but forced upon them. In the 1950s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs signed a government license with the Dawn Mining Company to extract the minerals/uranium on the reservation.


None the less, the tribe has been exposed to this devastating poison over 60 years. The definition of uranium is a heavy, silvery-white, highly toxic, radioactive metallic element of the actinide series. It has 14 known isotopes, of which U 238 is the most naturally abundant, occurring in several minerals. Fissionable isotopes, especially U 235, are used in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Atomic number 92; atomic weight 238.03; melting point 1,132°C; boiling point 3,818°C; specific gravity 18.95; valence 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.  Basically it’s a toxic mixture of radioactive uranium from under the mine and mixed with heavy metals and iron pyrite compounds that react to form sulfuric acid.


Currently there is substantial runoff at Ford Mill site, meaning 2 plumes (holding tanks) are leaking uranium into small streams that flow toward the Spokane River of Lake Roosevelt a short distance away.  This means not only the Tribal members are being exposed but residents in the surrounding area are being exposed.  This water is being used to water crops, house fish, and also recreation use.


There were stories of how the mining company would only hire people over child baring age, because uranium causes any individual incapable of reproduction.  There were no training on the proper disposal, no radiation suits, and no information on uranium in the 50’s.  The people who were hired were the Spokane Indians.


There is a concern for continued exposure of a radioactive gases this cause’s lung cancer among other serious ailments.  This is where it gets tricky; the gases formed can seep into the ground or perhaps turn into a powder substance—when this happens the wild life will ingest this.  So when the Spokane Tribal member practices their hunting rights, and process the meat, hide, ect. they will be eating, breathing, and touching the radioactive residue; thus, leading to prolonged exposure.


However, The Spokane Tribe is taking this company to court for proper disposal and holding the company responsible for previous actions.  The estimated cost for cleanup is 160 million dollars.



I will continue to follow the progress of the Spokane Tribe, in hopes there will be a positive outcome for the people.  They have my full support.

Please take a look at this.






August 4, 2014


The trip to the museum in Umatilla was an experience that I will treasure for a life time.   As a mixture of students walk into the museum the first thing we see is that we can’t take pictures. So this experience is something that will always be in my heart.  I will share as much as I can.


First stop gift shop! I got three books.  I have yet to read them as I get car sick trying to read in cars.  I got my husband a gift. I can’t tell he might be reading this.  I will say it is beautiful.  The Tamastslikt has a theater that will show you a ledged about coyote losing his eyes and saving all creations big and small. Such as, the smallest root to the biggest animal.  Maybe I poorly described the theater.  The screens are panoramic view on the ceiling and in the middle on the floor was a replica of a fire.  The setting was right out of a scene of the forest.  I felt like I truly was laying outside by a fire watching the stars.


Right after the story I went and looked at the tools that the Umatilla use to cook, drink, and eat with.  I was fascinated with a weaved coffee cup.  I had to admire that because I am a basket weaver and an avid coffee drinker.  When I was here I actually spent my time here the longest.  This was only because I can picture myself in that era of time using these utensils.


One of the pictures that captured in my mind was a group of women tanning buckskin.  The museum had received this from the Smithsonian, picture number 2890-b-56.

We’re Here




The day we arrived at Lovida Red Elks house was so much fun. She is a glass artist and respected elder of Umatilla tribe.   As we were corralled into her work studio; walked into what seemed like a china shop—Let me explain.  Lovida has her beautiful art work glass hanging up and on plate holders.  Again when the blog site lets me upload pictures I will.  She had this plate that had horses on it and I truly admired it.


When she went over safety, rules, and directions on how to place our glass to make a plate, seemed easy when she did it.  However, when I did my plate it was not as easy as she made it.  It is a science that needs to be known because you need to know how each kind of glass will melt.  It can get real messy or it could even ruin your whole art project.


I choose to do a blue/red flower with red and blue trim.  I chose the flower and colors because I seen this flower in a dream.  When I had my glass down on my sheet, Lovida came to me and said it’s going to be beautiful.  I still don’t know how my project looks like today 8/9/14.  Lovida said she will mail them to us.


Later that day we set up camp and was introduced to Wenix.  Wenix is Lovida’s daughter.  She just got back from gathering roots and medicines used by the Umatilla. She washed them outside for us to see and learn.  We ate dinner outside under the stars.  There was a circular fire pit we cooked our dinner. At first a lot of us were unsure of Chrissy’s dinner concoction.


How to make Chrissy’s dinner

  • Get foil
  • Fold it like a big cup
  • Put leftovers in foil
  • Fold and pinch corners shut
  • Put on fire for 20 mins.

This was so good! I will be doing this when my family go camping. Thank you Chrissy!!!!

Later On That Day

Later on that day


The people of the big river was moved to the Slough Deschutes woods. We met some Recreation National Forest Rangers of the Slough Deschutes Woods.  After we learned a little history about why National Forest were established we proceed to take a beautiful mile and a half hike along Benham Falls.


National Forest was built in the United States to protect water sheds.  This is a huge project.  Water Sheds are import in today’s world, without water sheds we would not have water to water our fields, drinking, and other import matters at hand.


The forest rangers mission is to preserver wildlife.  The main plan is to care for the land and the people who utilize the parks for recreation.


The hike started it was along the Benham Falls.  We all started together; however, there were more advanced hikers than others.  I was the very last hiker to finish! None the less, I enjoyed the beautiful scenery.  Again I do apologize for no uploads for pictures or videos, I will upload when the blog site lets me.  We learned the falls were created by lava rocks and it actually turned the current of the river the opposite way.  This happened millions of years ago.




Today is August 1, 2014 and we are meeting Colin Mcguigan is employed with U.S. government Forest Service.  They fight forest fires in the Deschutes area.  They also plan and think fast because their crews’ life are on the line.  Mr. Mcguigan showed us the difference between fire fuels and introduced us to the Phils Trail Head. Phils Trail Head is for bike riders.


Mr. Mcguigan showed a tree that has been hit by lightning.  The Tree was a ponderosa and it had a streak from the top of the tree to the bottom of the tree.  The streak was about 2 feet wide and looked like someone carved the line into the tree.  So far in the Pacific Northwest Region there has been thousands and thousands lighting strikes that hit ground.


After seeing this ponderosa tree, he proceeded to show us the difference between sizes of fire fuels.  There is 9-13% of moister fuel meaning there is a lot of dead, dry, trees or bushes; for example, qr. inch or less is 1hour fuel—qr. Inch or inch is 10 hour fuel—1-3 inches is 100 hours of fuel—and anything 3 inches in diameter or bigger is a 1000 hour fuel.   I do apologize for no pictures, I will upload when the blog site allows me.   Firefighters need to be educated to make fast calls in the field.   “It’s not chasing butterflies and petting squirrels” said, Mcguigan.  Could you image how small 1-3 inches and it will burn for 100 hours.  That is so scary.  It makes me confident that we have very passionate people like Colin Mcguigan to fight fire for us.


Mr. Mcguigan is a passionate person about fire and to secure the sanctity of the land.  He spoke about saving the land the best way he could so his daughters and his daughters–daughters can enjoy it.  I enjoyed listening to his stories about why he wanted to become a firefighter and protect the land.

Deschutes National Forest

Today is 7/31/14 and we the People of the Big River will travel to the Deschutes National Forest in the Pacific Northwest Region.


We met Tom Walker, fisheries Biologist—U.S. Forest Service.  Mr. 20140731_105440Walker primarily focused on the importance of Aspen Trees.   Aspen trees are important to the forest and the rural community located right next door to the forest.  Aspen Trees are fire retardant and protect the forest, parks, and homes from fire.


Mr. Walker informed us that lodge poles are growing in abundance and will kill off the Aspen trees.  Not only the lodge poles but the spotted knapweed.  He showed us the difference between look alike native plants—don’t pull those.  We spent about two hours pulling the weeds and lodge pole from the Tumalo floodplain Aspen enhancement; while I was pulling weed/trees I thought of Arletha (the elder from Warm Springs) on how she said Native Americans took pride in land and caring for it for the generations to come.  This job, even the small amount of time we spent on it made me feel like I was accomplishing something positive for generations to come.


After we finished up our work in the Tumalo Floodplain; we started our second portion of the day.  This was so amazing. We went to Tumalo Falls.  This was a mile and a half of a hike UPHILL! It was well 20140731_144200worth it, I am scared of heights. My two new friends helped me to the ledge to look at this enchanted beauty.  I had a hold of their arms and I worked my courage to look over the ledge to take pictures.  In the pink hat is Cheri Root (me) and wearing the orange headband is Monet.  Thank you for helping me to look over the ledge!


20140730_090154Today was more of an office day with Warm Springs.  The People of the Big River (us) was presented with a power point of the effects of the over population of wild horses.  Jason Smith, Range and Agriculture Manager and Tim Outman, Range and Agriculture Policy Planning—advised the Senate to fund inspectors for meat packaging facilities.  This action was warranted because in 2006 Congress stopped all funding for state inspectors.  Thus, causing a huge growth in wild horses in many reservations.


Mr. Smith wrote a letter to the Appropriations Committee under the capacity of National Tribal Horse Coalition to inform Congress why funding is important to keep facilities; such as, meat packaging, and state inspectors to keep the wild horse populations down. “Were just trying to be able to manage our herds, and we can’t do that right now, the way things are” Mr. Smith said.


Tim Outman informed us that in 2011 President Obama would fund for stock inspectors; however, the Senate vetoed it.  Nonetheless, it will be opened September 30, 2014.  This is a small window of opportunity for the Warm Springs Tribe to advocate for a meat packaging facility.


Here are some Bills that are in effect today—HR503 and SB727.


Without such amenities the horses will eat everything and will cause extinction among many native plants, roots, and ruin the ground if not handled now.


It’s time to cinch that saddle and let reservations do what is right for their land, water, and wellbeing.20140729_100848

TWANAT Museum Walk In The Past



The Twanat Museum is located in Warm Springs, Oregon.  The reservation belongs to the Warm Springs and is a sovereign nation with a Treaty signed in 1855.



When you walk into the museum the first thing you see is little dolls made by (Atwy) Mary Ann Meanus

One of the dolls caught my eye were the marriage ceremony. wpid-20140730_091520.jpg Beautiful woman wear our traditional veil.  I stood there staring at the pair of dolls thinking about our past generations.  How many people have been married in front of a village or how many people have been in an arrangement marriage?





After the rushed view of the museum; we were able to meet an elder of the Warm Springs Tribe.  Her name is Arletha Roam.  Arletha stresses that there is a huge problem of trash on the river.  She leads by example and picks up any trash she sees and throws it away.  There was a pause, it almost seems like she was remembering the old times when people cared about the land—so she started to tell us about a story when she was younger.


Arletha didn’t learn the English language until she was eleven.   Before that she spoke Ichishkin.  Her stories were magical; reminiscent to a time when life was meaningful and significant.  I felt like I was taken back to a time where I would want to live.  One of her stories was when she was playing with dolls and she would be talking in our language as children do now in English.  She also talked about how people would care for the land even if it wasn’t their land.  Warm Springs people care for the land and took it upon themselves to care for mother earth for generations to come.

Here is her compelling song.


The New Frontier

Horses are stunning farm animals when cared and used for their purpose.  However, when abandoned on the reservation they become a challenge to control among the reservations. The over population of wild horses are a huge challenge for Warm Springs—it leads to starvation of horses, effect of environment, damage of ecological welfare.


Nonetheless, the Warm Springs Tribe are doing their best efforts to contain the population.  Some of the solutions are to round up (herd) the horses to one of the four districts holding pen.  “The Cowboy Crew” will herd the horses from the hills to the pin.  I asked who is eligible to be in the cowboy crew. Jason Smiths, Range and Agriculture Manager, “anyone who is from a family that are cowboys” Pun intended.  However, on a more serious note Mr. Smith is in charge of the following:

  • Cowboy Crew
  • Fence Crew
  • Environment Crew
  • Restoration Crew

These crews are stretched over six thousand four hundred thousand square acres.  The numbers of the groups varies.


Joles (J.E.) is ahead of one of  the six grazing districts that was demonstrating how to round up (herd) the horses.  When I inquired about the help he has for today, he said he was happy because he said, “It’s only me and my son majority of the time”.


After the round up they load up the horses to the central pen; this is also where they have the annual rodeo called Pi-um-sha.  When the horses are at the central holding pen, they will put in a corral to be herded into a hydraulic squeeze pin.  This is where the cowboy crew can guild, check and doctor wounds, check teeth, and vaccinate the horses.  After the horses are cared for the crew will cut the tail short so the horse can be identified as, “care for”.  The other horses will be sold to Shelby, Montana.


This is the only way I can upload videos.


I recorded the horses coming into the holding pen.  To witness this in person was amazing. Hearing the cowboy crew in the hills war-hooping to scare the wild horses down to the holding pin was a happy moment.

Did we leave yet?

On 7/28/14 we sat in hot vans waiting to leave on our new adventure.  I was able to interview a journalist from KAPP T.V. abc, Ted Skroback.   Mr. Skroback had just finished taping our dramatic departure from Heritage University.  However, we (Heritage Students) needed to finish packing our vans, so we stopped and started to load.  When there was some down time–I decided to do my first interview for my blog.  Here is my attempt to interview a journalist.  We gave him some dried fish (dried salmon), I asked how he felt about the People of Big River 2014? Here is his answer.      http://youtu.be/9v292z-Wqi8


Thank you for your interview! Enjoy.

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