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  • Writer's pictureRose High Bear

November 2021 E-Newsletter


November greetings to our family of subscribers. This November e-newsletter shares the most recent news about the growth and development of Elderberry Wisdom Farm. I also like to share my personal thoughts and the ancestral side of myself. Maybe it’s because of my roots in the village of McGrath on Alaska’s Kuskoquim River.

We may update you on our sacred landscapes as we face a dramatically changing climate, and the status of projects we are developing to strengthen the sustainability of our ecosystems. We also want to share our perspectives on the vital role our Native youth are destined to play as tomorrow’s habitat healers and living museums. They are increasingly engaged in critical food systems and food sovereignty issues, and supporting habitat restoration initiatives in the face of today’s climate crisis. They are achieving high levels of health and wellness resiliency that fill us with hope.

I expect our staff and board members, and perhaps interns and volunteers will contribute greetings in future newsletters. They are unfolding our work right now so I’m hesitant to ask them, but you’ll hear from them soon. My articles might be a bit brief as well from time to time as we are still laying our foundation and developing the roots of our initiatives.


Update: Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Workforce Development Project

Progress we made this past month was exciting. Our TEK Internship launched October 4 and our Native interns are evolving their career pathways planning into agricultural and horticultural and conservation fields. Their favorite class is the Traditional Ecological Knowledge class with topics including soil regeneration, the importance of cover crops and the use of Native plant species in pollinator hedgerows.

The interns appreciated learning the connection between TEK and food sovereignty, the importance of seed saving of Native plants as well as heirloom vegetables. They enjoyed working in the field getting acquainted with Native and invasive plants in local ecosystems, and learning more about regenerative agriculture.

They have appreciated the Native leadership classes, learning that Native American work ethic focuses more on providing selfless service to the community. Their awareness of workforce readiness issues has increased, including the importance of communications, and how critical thinking and assertiveness from a Native perspective strengthens relationships and harmony within an organization.

They are exploring the upcoming development of our Native American habitat restoration team that will begin to work in local ecosystems in 2022. They loved Trish’s Native American digging stick, or "kupen" (Nez Perce) and are increasingly fascinated with the history and relevance of Native American cultural arts, including the tools made from the trees of our region such as the Pacific Yew which is used for multiple tools and as an ethnobotanical.

Outdoors, they worked in the elderberry patch, preparing the soil by seeding the rows with a cover crop of red clover that will enrich the soil over the winter. The team has been designing the hedgerow and getting prepared to plant eighteen species we have been growing for the past nine months. They will plant the plants in the pollinator hedgerow at Elderberry Wisdom Farm this next month. They are most excited to see multiple kinds of mushrooms that have been growing in the wood chips and on the wood piles.


Elderberry Wisdom Farm Soil Testing

We now know more about the health of the soil after reviewing our recent soil test. OSU student Kassi Roosth, who has field experience improving soil health while conducting restoration projects in local ecosystems, came out in early October and helped me dig five sets of soil samples on the farm: Two areas of the elderberry patch; the sunny and shady sections of the pollinator hedgerow; and a shady area in the forest.

Her diagnosis: The soil is healthy except for a couple of minerals that need to be supplemented. We are transitioning the farm to no-till organic, and will continue to rely on colleagues to guide us, including her and Dr. Bob Faust, PhD agroecologist who has been recommending products and processes to enrich the elderberry patch.

Kassie said, “Thank you for having me out today! I really enjoyed meeting your class and I admire your teaching philosophy. Your students have such an amazing opportunity to experience hands-on learning, critical thinking, and how to work with each other in their natural environment. Kudos to you! We need more education like this.”

She summarized our soil test results:

Your Jory soil is a beautiful rich brownish/red, porous to the touch, and full of visible life such as earthworms. The soil tests show that there is a very high level of organic matter, which is assisting with the cat-ion exchange capacity (CEC). This is the total capacity of exchangeable cations in your soil. Since it’s high, this means the soil has a lot of negatively charged sites that are holding on to positively charged molecules with an electrostatic force. Many nutrients such as potassium and magnesium exist as positively charged molecules.
My only suggestion would be to supplement with an organic source of nitrogen and phosphorus. These are 2 out of 3 macronutrients that plants need to thrive. Nitrogen is the most important nutrient for plants and a major component of chlorophyll, which plants use for photosynthesis. Phosphorus helps with energy transfer for rooting, flowering, and fruiting. You also might want to consider adding in some calcitic lime to raise the calcium levels and soil pH. The pH is currently acidic, which the majority of native plants are accustomed to in the valley, however, if it’s slightly raised, this could make more nutrients available that are locked up in the soil.

Chemawa Journey of Transformation

We are announcing a new partnership this month that has been over a decade in the making. The background on our relationships with our partners reveals the depth behind collaborative partnerships we have developed with University of Washington's Indigenous Wellness Research Institute and Chemawa Indian Boarding School.

I began meeting with Karina Walters, Ph.D and founder of UW's Indigenous Wellness Research Institute in 2009 when I filmed her for Wisdom's Discovering Our Story Project. IWRI is certified by NIH as a National Center of Excellence and specializes in community based participatory research with partners among diverse tribes, education institutions and research institutions.

We consulted for over a decade to develop a health and wellness research project for Chemawa Indian School. We wanted to provide culturally-tailored multimedia health and wellness resiliency and ecology education to the high school students at Chemawa. Grants to NIH failed to be funded two or three times before we were successful. Tessa Williams-Campbell, Ph.D. joined Karina several years ago and they continued to commit to our project, insisting that we keep trying to be funded because grant scores were very high and indicated an opportunity for future success.

In April 2021, the National Institute of Health (and its National Institute of Mental Health) funded our 5-year health and wellness research project after the team agreed to the NIH research parameters around control groups. The project, titled Chemawa Journey of Transformation, launched May 2021 and will continue through April 2026. We are now in year-one development stage with UW researchers developing the research plan. We meet with them on Zoom every other week, and will begin to meet soon with Chemawa administrators and their teaching staff.

We plan to hire two educators with experience teaching Native students in January along with a filmmaker/mentor. The team will work together to finalize our learning model, revise our culturally-tailored ecology curriculum, and prepare to co-teach health education with the BIA educators. Ecology classes will be taught Spring term starting March 2022. Health classes will begin Fall and Winter terms in September 2022 and continue for 3 years. Friends of Trees will also work with students to restore the wetlands on the school grounds. We will supplement their activities by providing traditional ecological knowledge later this month. We will update you as we progress.


End of Year Fundraising Drive

The first month of our End of Year Fundraiser ended with a little over $1,000 in contributions from a variety of generous partners, subscribers, followers, and donors. Thanks to each of you for your donations in October!

You can support the work of Elderberry Wisdom Farm by making a donation this month during our annual End of Year Fundraising Drive. We want to add $1,000 in donations in November. Friday, November 26, popularly known as the consumer-driven Black Friday, has been declared Native American Heritage Day by President Biden. We are encouraging our supporters to give up until that day using PayPal.

We are enjoying doing our part to raise understanding and awareness of Native American culture and the importance of ecological knowledge so others have greater appreciation and respect for it. We were surprised to hear that in 2018, an “IllumiNative initiative released findings from a national poll that found 80 percent of Americans know “little to nothing” about Native people and 72 percent “rarely, if ever” encounter information about Native Americans. (from “Becoming Visible: A Landscape Analysis of State Efforts to Provide Native American Education for All.” National Congress of American Indians, Washington, DC. September 2019) Can you help us to change that and work with us to raise cultural awareness within our community?


Volunteer activity on through mid-December

You are welcome to join us Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 2-4 pm for outdoor experiential service learning with our team, including four Native American interns. We occasionally have a special guest who provides background on some of the issues we are exploring.

We are also recruiting volunteers to expand our communications and social network. We have not been able to stretch ourselves to do everything we would like to do, including reaching out to our new newsletter subscribers. If you would like to know more about us and work with us to expand our outreach, please contact Rose to inquire at


Winona LaDuke presents at Willamette University’s 32nd Annual Salem Peace Lecture

Renowned indigenous and environmental rights activist Winona LaDuke, currently on the front lines of the Stop Line 3 movement, will deliver the 32nd Annual Salem Peace Lecture (virtually) on Wednesday, November 10 at 6:30 pm. The charismatic Director of the Native American foundation, Honor the Earth, Winona is dedicated to Native American environmental issues and advocates passionately for indigenous control of native homelands. The Annual Salem Peace Lecture will be hosted by the Willamette University Office of Spiritual and Religious Life. You can participate through the following link: The meeting ID is: 926 8156 2384.


Rose High Bear and Elderberry Wisdom Farm to be featured on podcast, November 12

The podcast "Voices in Action" will feature Elderberry Wisdom Farm’s Rose High Bear on Friday, November 12. Leo Allanach, the producer and host explored issues relating to disability justice across Oregon. He asked a number of questions about the work of our Native American nonprofit, about Rose’s background and some of her past projects. He was especially interested in her perspectives on climate justice and food sovereignty, and I included some messages of encouragement and hope to our communities’ climate justice advocates. Leo’s podcast explores issues relating to disability justice across Oregon. He interviewed me this week and is publishing the podcast next Friday. He hosts the podcast for EOCIL (Eastern Oregon Center for Independent Living), in Bend, Oregon.


President Biden Declares November as National Native American Heritage Month

President Joe Biden with Interior Sec. Deb Haaland has issued a proclamation naming November 2021 as National Native American Heritage Month. You can read the full text of the proclamation here:

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