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SPCC Elders hear department updates

By Adriana Fehrs

ST. IGNATIUS — The monthly Salish – Pend d’ Oreille Culture Committee Elder’s meeting commenced on April 2. A wide array of topics was presented to the elders, from logged scarred trees to the rerouting of Highway 43 that runs by Anaconda.

Birthdays
Chaney Bell, Salish Language Coordinator for the SPCC, is the only SPCC member celebrating a birthday for the month of April. He turns a ripe old 37 years old on April 8.

Ira Matt, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for CSKT Preservation Department, holds up a map that will assist them in assessing the potential impact that the AT&T cell tower project may have on cultural resources in the Jocko Valley. (B.L. Azure Photo) Ira Matt, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for CSKT Preservation Department, holds up a map that will assist them in assessing the potential impact that the AT&T cell tower project may have on cultural resources in the Jocko Valley. (B.L. Azure Photo)

CSKT Preservation Department
Ira Matt, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Buzz Fyant, Finance Manager, and Amak Kenmille, Cultural Resource Field Technician, presented to the SPCC Elders several issues that the Preservation Department has been working on.

The first of their topics covered their meeting with North Western Energy (NW Energy). The department says they will be signing a problematic agreement in the near future with NW Energy. “Preservation will also be taking an inventory of the areas effected by the expanded power lines,” says Matt.

The next issue concerns AT&T’s expansion of their cell tower in Hot Springs, which will only be done after the Preservation Department takes an inventory of the area. The inventory will run from Jocko Road all the way to Highway 93. Shane Hope, from Shane Hope Archeology, will aid in the inventory. Ira Matt informed the Elders that they will be distributing maps to them in hope of learning more about the effected area. They say they will also conduct field trips to take the Elders out to the areas to further their inventory as well. Matt says, “ The future mitigation also involves visual impact; our tribal focus in on the distractions during cultural events that will come from the new cell tower expansion.”

The topic Preservation Department saved for last surely held the most conversation for the Elders. Ira and Kenmille presented to the elders photos of logged scar trees, trees that once were used by tribal ancestors – where they would remove parts of the bark on a tree to eat, thus leaving a permanent mark - and are considered living artifacts. The trees were found in the Alder Ditch area west of Lone Pine. Matt says, “François Alder dug up tapes that showed fifteen scarred trees that had been logged.” They further investigated, and found that the area had at least 41-logged scar trees, with the potential of eight more trees. The department says that it was most likely a tribally contracted logging company, which could have had a ‘Red and Dead’ permit that restricts loggers to harvest only dead trees. They found that the trees had a cut line that traveled all the way around the base of the tree, down into the cambium layer thus killing the tree, and then were cut down and left. Matt says “In the photos, you can clearly see the trees marked with blue paint, marking them for harvest, and you can see they marked right over the scar. This is a clear violation.” They say they are currently trying to identify which company possessed the permits for the unit, and are working with CSKT Forestry to see who had clearance for the area. “Its not going to be an easy task, nobody is looking to confess for this,” says Matt. A $500 bond for each tree is held by the CSKT Forestry Department.

Steph Gillin, Wildlife Biologist for the Division of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation, speaks with SPCC elders Stephen Small salmon and Pat Pierre, on issues regarding bison and the transmission of the brucellosis bacteria to cattle. (B.L. Azure photo) Steph Gillin, Wildlife Biologist for the Division of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation, speaks with SPCC elders Stephen Small salmon and Pat Pierre, on issues regarding bison and the transmission of the brucellosis bacteria to cattle. (B.L. Azure photo)

Natural Resources Department
Wildlife Biologists Steph Gillin, Stacy Courville, and Shannon Clairmont, for the CSKT Division of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation, visited the Elders to go over issues concerning Bison and the transmission of the brucellosis bacteria.

Gillin informed the Elders that the bacterium was first detected in Montana in the Lamar Valley in 1917. It is known for causing abortion in cattle, elk, and bison and is spread through birth fluids and discharge from effected animals. It is mostly linked to elk in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA).

There are two types of tests that are done on the bison in the park. The first one is called ‘seropositive’, while the bison is alive, and second is the ‘Gold Card’ test, which is administered after death. Gillin says, “All the bison that test seropositive in the park are slaughtered, and half of the bison test seropositive.”

Fish and Wildlife informed the Elders that the meat is safe to eat, as long as it is cooked thoroughly. It is rare for a human to contract brucellosis, and is mostly done by handling the reproductive organs of an affected bison. They say in 2014 the Department of Livestock and Montana Fish and Wildlife pushed for the eradication of brucellosis, but there are no documented cases of bison to cattle transmission.

Kyi-Yo Pow Wow
Sierra Webster-Minesinger, Head of the Princess Committee, Floor Management, and Scheduling for the Kyi-Yo Pow Wow organization of the University of Montana, met with the Elders to seek their support on future changes.

Webster-Minesinger hopes to change the dancing direction at this year’s Kyi-Yo Pow Wow. The annual event usually has dancers circle the gym in a clockwise motion, a traditional Blackfeet style, and now hopes to change it to a traditional Salish counterclockwise dancing motion. She says she has faced opposition from members of the Kyi-Yo Club, which has been dominantly ruled by Blackfeet students. “Now that there are three Salish board members, maybe we can change things to a more traditional Salish way. Shirley Trahan, SPCC Elder, agreed, “That area use to be Salish territory, and the club should be respectful of that. I applaud you for your bravery, and I know that you might make some people mad.”

Webster-Minesinger then asks if the Elders could put their support in a documented form, to aid her when she goes before her fellow club members in the next few days.

Pictured right: Dacia Whitworth, Youth Advocate for CSKT Social Services under the Yarrow Grant, speaks with the SPCC elders on updates to their program. Dacia says, “We are a fairly new program here on the reservation, we address youth homelessness for children aging out the foster care system. Currently we are looking into doing surveys to see in what areas we are lacking.” (B.L. Azure photo) Pictured right: Dacia Whitworth, Youth Advocate for CSKT Social Services under the Yarrow Grant, speaks with the SPCC elders on updates to their program. Dacia says, “We are a fairly new program here on the reservation, we address youth homelessness for children aging out the foster care system. Currently we are looking into doing surveys to see in what areas we are lacking.” (B.L. Azure photo)

CSKT Tribal Social Services
CSKT Tribal Social Services Division’s (TSSD) Youth Outreach Program and Early Foundations Home Visiting Program updated the SPCC Elders on what the programs are doing.

The Youth Outreach Program, which focuses on homelessness in youth between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one who are aging out of the foster care system, is in their ‘construction phase’. Dacia Whitworth, Executive Coordinator of the Yarrow Grant, says, “We recently received funding to start up this program, we are in the middle of year one, and we currently have all our personnel. We came here today to introduce the project, and to seek your input.”

The program currently has funding for a consultant to conduct a survey to find where they are lacking. They say they will potentially face problems with funding in the future, due to the high amount of competition for grants in that field.

The program is also establishing a plan; they are assessing what services they might provide that would have the greatest impact in the community. Currently, no similar programs are in place between Kalispell and Missoula.

Naomi Billedeaux, Youth Advocate, says “Later we will be asking for recommendations, in a survey from, to see what types of activities or projects the Elders would like to see them initiate. Right now, we are looking for testimonies from foster kids, to see what was fundamental in their success.”

Dolly Linsebigler, SPCC Elder, provides her input during the SPCC elder’s meeting on Wednesday April 2. (B.L. Azure Photo)Dolly Linsebigler, SPCC Elder, provides her input during the SPCC elder’s meeting on Wednesday April 2. (B.L. Azure Photo)

Rebecca Ereaux, Lead Parent Educator, and Phylicia McDonald, Parent Educator, for the Early Foundations Home Visiting Program informed the Elders about their program.

Ereaux says, “This year, we will start conducting home visits with parents that have children under the age of 3.” Through September of 2015 they will assist children with healthy development and Kindergarten prep. “Our philosophy is parents are a kid’s first teacher,” she says. The program will visit parents and educate them on healthy development. They will use an established curriculum for parents that have concerns on their children’s development. McDonalds says, “We don’t work for Child Protective Services, we are our own entity, and we aren’t looking to take kids away from their families; we are doing this project to help parents with their children’s development.”

Linderman Elementary School
Linderman Elementary School second grade teacher Darcy Laud spoke with the Elders on possible future events. Laud says, “ I would like to extend teacher learning to kid learning.” On September 19, she hopes to host a tribal education day for about 400 students at Linderman Elementary, for grades 2 through 4. “We are not educating our youth on current Native American Issues, and so I would love for any of you come and speak to the students.”

John Bunce, Adult Learner for the Intensive Salish Language Program, demonstrates his Salish speaking skills to SPCC elders. The apprentices have recently moved into level two of the curriculum; they now possess a 1,000-word vocabulary. (B.L. Azure photo) John Bunce, Adult Learner for the Intensive Salish Language Program, demonstrates his Salish speaking skills to SPCC elders. The apprentices have recently moved into level two of the curriculum; they now possess a 1,000-word vocabulary. (B.L. Azure photo)

Salish Language Program
The SPCC Intensive Salish Program just finished their third month of classes. They are entering into level two of the three-level curriculum. Chaney Bell, SPCC Salish Language Coordinator, says, “The adult learners are at two-year-old speaking level, and they are at a critical time where fluent speakers play a big role in their skill development.” The students currently know about 1,000 words, and by the time they finish level two they will possess a 3,00 word vocabulary.

To demonstrate to the elders the advancement in the adult learner’s skills, Chaney Bell has the students speak to the elders in Salish. Elliot Adams is the first to speak, followed by John Bunce, Kayla Dix, Jackson Adams, Alyssa Nenemay, and Likok Felix, all of whom speak as much as they can in Salish to the Elders.

Namchak Retreat Ranch
The Namchak Retreat Ranch outside of Hot Springs, a Buddhist teaching school, extended an invite for the SPCC elders to visit their 15,000-acre property for the third SPCC meeting in a row.

Pat Pierre, SPCC Elder, spoke for the rest of the Elders when he said, “The elders have no interest in visiting the ranch.”

Thompson Smith, SPCC History and Geography Projects Head, presents a slideshow last Wednesday April 2 showing the damage done to a historic maker placed on the Blackfoot River, which depicts SPCC elder Dolly Linsebigler and her late mother Agnes PokerJim Paul. The sign had been shot and vandalized during some time last winter, and was recently discovered by Roian Matt, CSKT Forestry Secretary. (B.L. Azure photo) Thompson Smith, SPCC History and Geography Projects Head, presents a slideshow last Wednesday April 2 showing the damage done to a historic maker placed on the Blackfoot River, which depicts SPCC elder Dolly Linsebigler and her late mother Agnes PokerJim Paul. The sign had been shot and vandalized during some time last winter, and was recently discovered by Roian Matt, CSKT Forestry Secretary. (B.L. Azure photo)

Blackfoot River SPCC Elder Field Trip
Thompson Smith, SPCC Historic and Geography Projects, spoke to the Elders on recent vandalism to historic markers on the Blackfoot River.

In 2005, a series of historical markers were placed on the Blackfoot River past Potomac after a place-naming tour took was conducted with the late Josephine Quequesah in 1997.

Roian Matt, CSKT Forestry Department, informed Smith that the historic marker depicting Josephine Quequesah and her mother Agnes PokerJim Paul had been shot and vandalized.

Currently, the Bureau of Land Management and the Montana Forest Service is tracking the offender. They informed Smith that the sign will be replaced after the culprit is found and charged.

Tim Ryan, Cultural Resource Compliance and Heritage Educator for EthnoTech, LLC, informs the SPCC elders on the upcoming highway 43 rerouting that will be done by Anaconda. The Elders are asked to later help identify areas of cultural relevance and the inventory of plants for the mitigation that will take place from the road construction. (B.L. Azure photo)  Tim Ryan, Cultural Resource Compliance and Heritage Educator for EthnoTech, LLC, informs the SPCC elders on the upcoming highway 43 rerouting that will be done by Anaconda. The Elders are asked to later help identify areas of cultural relevance and the inventory of plants for the mitigation that will take place from the road construction. (B.L. Azure photo)

Montana Department of Transportation
Tim Ryan, Cultural Resource Compliance and Heritage Educator for EthnoTech, LLC of Polson is partnering with the Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) for the rerouting of Highway 43 that runs by Anaconda. MDOT is rerouting the highway away from the lower marshland area, due to an increased amount of collisions with wildlife.

Ryan says the next stage involves interview Elders about the area. They are searching for any cultural and historic information on the area, to aid in the future mitigation process. Ryan says, “ The new highway will intersect old camp sites and mines, so we are going to be doing an ethnographic study – just a survey of the land, no archeological digging.”

They hope to take elders to the area in order to inventory any culturally significant plants present there. Ryan says they will use the inventory to do a final assessment, which will be given to MDOT.

For more information on the Salish Pend d’ Oreille Culture Committee meetings, contact them at (406) 745-4572. They meet every first Wednesday of the month at the Long House in St.Ignatius, 81 Blind Barnaby Street at nine a.m.

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