October greetings, relatives! I’ve been trying to draft this newsletter and get it published for the past 14 days, so it is a relief to finalize greetings and send them along to you this evening. It is a bit brief this month!
Traditional Ecological Knowledge Workforce Development Project
We have a good excuse for being so slow with our October newsletter! We launched the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Workforce Development Project last week. This workforce project was created in partnership with Chemeketa Community College and has been funded for the next five years (2021-2026) by US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture.
It has been a lot of preparation work but also exciting to launch our evolving learning model which is becoming increasingly compatible with Native American learning styles of our adult interns. We successfully introduced our lesson plans to our new cohort in the first class on October 4. Sessions include film clips and lectures followed by discussions on several of the 20 or more traditional ecological knowledge lessons we are introducing. Emerging climate issues and the adaptation and mitigation plans of our region’s tribe are an essential part of these classes.
We are also focusing attention on Native American leadership models and how they differ from standard business leadership models, plus the importance of group consultation and other aspects of workforce readiness. The cohort began to plan the emerging research projects they are developing.
Afternoon classes are dedicated to experiential service learning outdoors on our two-acre property includes a 350-foot hedgerow the team is developing and will be planting with 18 Native plant species, mostly pollinators, that we have grown and cultivated since last winter. The soil has become degraded after decades of farm operation so we are currently testing the soil so we can begin to amend it. The site assessment and soil analysis work is a big part of our initial work along with the planting design of 800+ plants we are moving from our greenhouse into the hedgerow and blue elderberry patch.
Our team of interns are continuing to vision and dream their career pathway plans which will lead to meaningful work in horticultural/agriculture fields. You will get to e-meet some of these gifted individuals soon because we will be highlighting them in our December newsletter. They will also present their projects at our concluding event in December being held at Chemeketa Community College.
Some of you may know our TEK Staff.
Trish Haugen and Autumn HighDesertWolf are teaming up to provide the indoor learning and outdoor experiential activities for our cohort of Native American interns at the TEK Workforce Development Project. We all worked together in Portland at Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. and now they have become our gifted educational team at Elderberry Wisdom Farm. We are all engaged with these promising young leaders who will all help create a better, healthier future in agricultural and horticultural career fields.
Trish Haugen (Blackfeet, Seneca, Sami) is Traditional Ecological Knowledge Educator for our initiative which integrates traditional knowledges of local ecosystems with academic Western science to serve Native American’s interested in pursuing agricultural or horticultural careers. Haugen believes it is her ethical responsibility to protect the planet, plants and natural resources for future generations. This deep commitment brought her to Wisdom of the Elders in 2018 where she supported Wisdom’s vision of Native American cultural sustainability, multimedia education and race reconciliation. Haugen provided administrative support while we recruited and trained emerging Native American interns learning diverse conservation and other career readiness skills.
Earlier in her career, she worked at The Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest and The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde as an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADCII), Chemical Dependency Professional (CDP), Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor level 2 (CDACII), Chemical Dependency Specialist level 3 (CDSIII). Trish attended Marylhurst University, Clark College and College of Marin and is committed to freely shares her knowledge as she provides experiential lifelong learning designed to empower others.
Autumn HIghDesertWolf is a descendant of the Sitsika, Pikuni, Piegan, (Blackfeet Confederacy), Seneca, Shawnee, and Saami Indigenous peoples. Autumn has a deep commitment to her ancestor’s teachings and spiritual traditions. She has reflected that in her past experience in sacred landscapes while interning and then serving as Assistant Crew Leader at Wisdom Workforce Development LLC between 2015-2018.
Autumn found a meaningful career pathway into environmental conservation work using a “Traditional Ecological Knowledge” systems foundation. She successfully integrated diverse teachings from Western Science which she learned experientially working with multiple collaborative partners in the greater Portland (Oregon) area. She continues to apply this habitat restoration experience with the traditional teachings of indigenous elders as Elderberry Wisdom Farm’s TEK Crew Leader. Due to the needs expressed by today’s conservation community and the hunger for TEK to be applied in local landscapes, she is also is exploring developing a native plant nursery microenterprise as her career pursuit.
Acknowledging Native American Day
This week we are celebrating the almost limitless number of exceptional Native Americans who have made such extraordinary contributions to their families and communities in recent decades and beyond that from within our ancestry. The commemoration of Native American Day (also called Indigenous Nations Day and Indigenous Peoples Day) is much appreciated! We love being remembered. President Biden acknowledged us as did so many others! Thank you, world, for acknowledging us on this special day.
Expanding on that, Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the 78th annual convention of the National Congress of American Indians this week. She eloquently expressed “waves of devastation for tribal nations” as Europeans settled in America hundreds of years ago. As she spoke about American history since the first arrival of European explorers, she also confirmed the commitment of the Biden administration not to shy away from the truths from a shameful history. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XlFq8TiFsc
I enjoyed my noon hour on Monday commemorating the day. I was asked to speak with over 250 members of the Environmental Science Associates, a team of gifted biologists, archeologists, civil engineers, landscape architects, air quality experts, and etc. I shared the background and history of Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. which I co-founded with the late Lakota medicine man and spiritual leader Martin High Bear. I elaborated on how my transition to rural Marion County, Oregon resulted in the founding of our new Native American nonprofit, Elderberry Wisdom Farm. I included mention of the importance of our oral history recordings made over several decades, our climate documentary film work, our workforce development internships and the ongoing development of culturally-tailored multimedia curriculum.
I shared the central role of our spirituality that has been reflected in our work at these nonprofits, especially since it is our spirituality that strengthens our connection with the natural world and allows us to work more in harmony with our fellow man. I reflected on how, after a century of our spirituality being illegal, we still feel like we need to whisper when we refer to our ceremonies, and the spiritual qualities or cultural values at the center of our existence. But no longer. We are committed to more openly sharing our truths so the awareness and understanding of our practices can increase, and with that can strengthen the appreciation and respect that Native American and Alaskan Native experience so deeply deserves. This is the focus of our race reconciliation vision here at Elderberry Wisdom Farm.
Raising awareness of food security issues
The world has been preparing for World Food Day 2021 on Saturday, October 16! The United Nations Food and Agriculture Council has been holding virtual consultations with diverse peoples and ages, especially including indigenous youth, for months to prepare for the upcoming activities being held this week.
You might be aware of a special interactive event, “Co-Producers Unite! Honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Food Heritage of Turtle Island” held earlier this week featuring Indigenous Chefs and Producers in Turtle Island (North America). The event engaged Indigenous chefs, producers and international experts in discussions on the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ food systems and cuisine in the kitchen, production, policy, schools and community. FAO North America is co-hosting the recordings on their youtube channel in partnership with the Intertribal Agriculture Council, Slow Food Turtle Island Association and Slow Food USA. If you miss it, these webinars and interactive discussions are still at their website.
End of the Year Fundraising Drive
We also launched our End of Year Fundraising Drive this week though PayPal and have already raised $850.00. Our little organization’s social media outreach is still pretty small, but we are mighty! We still have less than 100 newsletter subscribers, but we are adding a few new community members each month. We are recruiting volunteers to expand our communications network so more and more subscribers can become aware of and support our work. Our webmaster, Mark Phillipp, is such an amazing volunteer. He frequently takes my draft, adds photo images and publishes it for our network in less than a day. Thanks, Mark!
We are blessed with partners and funders who believe in us. Thank you to our Board of Directors and earliest donors from the Environmental Science Associates who are funding us and supporting the launch some pretty amazing work.
We also ask our subscribers and supporters to share our link so our outreach can strengthen. We appreciate when you can advise your networks about us and the messages we offer. We think they are relevant to today’s racially contradictory, sometimes overly political world that is trying to adapt to today’s rapidly changing climate.
The board of directors and staff at Elderberry Wisdom Farm acknowledge that for thousands of years, the Native ancestors of the land and our own ancestors continue to watch over us and our sacred landscapes. They inhabited and cared for these lands with great love, wisdom and attention. Living on the land for millennia is the wellspring of an extensive body of knowledge, values, beliefs and practices that many refer to as traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), or traditional knowledges (TKs).
This knowledge, passed down orally, through personal experience, and spiritual teachings, continues to be the foundation of our cultural identity and survival. It is increasingly relevant today. We draw upon its strength from being practiced and continuously evolved so that new knowledge is integrated into the ancient practices. Native Americans carry this understanding in our hearts as a trust for future generations with the understanding that it is of benefit to all of us and all of our human family. The best way to ensure its survival is to continue to use it and share it.
We live and work in the Willamette Valley, the traditional homelands of multiple bands of Kalapuya. We acknowledge that all of the land and water of our region on which we practice restoration is their ancestral home. Following the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855, they were forcibly removed to Western Oregon reservations, which served more like prison camps than villages. Today, living descendants of these people are a part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians. As we strive long-term to help conserve and protect our natural resources from emerging climate issues and other challenges, we acknowledge how much we need the wisdom and traditions of these peoples and their ancestors.
Next Month's Newsletter
In November, we will feature our newest collaborative partnership with University of Washington’s Indigenous Wellness Research Institute and Chemawa Indian School. We look forward to sharing more information about this five-year research project and the learning model and special classroom support that we will be providing to high school students in health and ecology classes at this Indian boarding school. It has been in development for over a decade and we are honored to work with this gifted Native American research team.