|June 12, 2014
SPCC Elders meet before summer break; resume in the fall
By Adriana Fehrs
ST. IGNATIUS — A low hum of voices echoed from the Long House on Wednesday June 4. It was a quiet meeting for the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee; they hosted their last elder’s meeting until October.
SPCC elder Pat Pierre said the last opening prayer of the spring and summer, and SPCC Director Tony Incashola announced the agenda for the day: birthdays were first, and first up to present was the SKC Hydrology graduates.
SPCC elder Hank Baylor celebrated his 82nd birthday on June 5, and SPCC elder Janie Wabaunsee turned 86 on June 6.
Shandin Pete, SKC Hydrology Instructor, introduces three of his students before they made a presentation to the elders on June 4. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
Salish Kootenai College
Graduating SKC Hydrology students Jacob Feistner and Sam Wall, and SKC junior Steve Ashley returned to the SPCC elders to present on their cultural and scientific findings as a part of their graduation requirements.
Shandin Pete, SKC Hydrology Instructor, sat attentively as the students spoke. “They will be graded on this,” Pete informed the elders.
The students were faced with the task of connecting scientific data with Native American culture and traditions. Feistner presented some their findings. He stated, “From the river water levels, we can determine what time of the year Native Americans would cross the rivers based on their historical trails.” The students found that Native Americans hunted, traveled, and gathered food all on a schedule. The ‘Monster’s Heart’ in Arlee could have been an indicator for natives when rivers were wadeable either by man or horse.
From river flow data, the students were also able to predict where traveling bands would have stopped and made camp during their trek into central Montana to hunt bison. “Stream flow has been very consistent through out the years, and using a wadeablility index, we could determine when and where Native Americans would have had to stop and wait for streams to slow,” says Feistner.
Pat Pierre left them with a word of caution, “Just remember water is sacred to us, it is healing.”
CSKT Legal Department
Dan Decker from the Tribal Legal Department spoke about the water compact at the elders meeting.
Decker explained that the limited reopening of the water compact negotiations will not affect what the Tribes negotiated for, but will only change the language used as pertaining to the water use agreement component of the settlement package. The Tribes hope the updated compact language will help it get pushed through in the 2015 State legislature.
SPCC elder Pat Pierre speaks his opinion at the elders meeting on June 4. After SKC students conducted a presentation for their class titled ‘Tribal Waters’, Pierre said, “Just remember, water is sacred to us. It is healing.” (Adriana Fehrs photo)
If the compact is not passed in the 2015 legislative session, the Tribes will have until June 30, 2015 to file its water rights claims for both on and off Reservation. Decker reached out to the elders asking for any information that would help strengthen the Tribes claims, which would be used for instream flow, agriculture purposes, fisheries, hunting and gathering purposes, cultural claims, and for domestic, commercial, municipal, and industrial uses.
Lloyd Irvine, Tribal Councilman, added, “This is only the first step in the whole process.” Decker agreed, “After the State legislation, it will be moved onto the U.S. Congress. It took the Crow Tribe approximately ten years to get their water compact passed. And by the time it gets back to the Tribes it may be different.”
SPCC elder Noel Pichette asked, “Does the compact talk about control? Does the Flathead Joint Board of Control want to quantify the water?” Decker explained that the compact confirms and quantifies all Tribal water rights and establishes the foundation for administering water rights on the Reservation. “Through the proposed agreement, the Tribes have agreed to protect most verified existing uses of water for both tribal and non tribal individuals on the Reservation.”
CSKT Preservation Department
Buzz Fyant, CSKT Preservation Department Finance Manager, presented the department’s newest intern Kisha Etches, whom will be their Cultural Resources Technician. On May 29 the department welcomed the new intern. Etches says she grew up in Arlee and is studying Archeology at the University of Montana.
Indian Health Services
Kevin Howlett, Tribal Heath and Human Services Director, announced the new IHS grand opening on August fifth and sixth. The new clinic in St. Ignatius will host an open house day for state legislature on August 5. An open house for the public is set for August 6.
The new IHS facility will provide expanded services; individuals can receive x-rays and eye exams at the St. Ignatius clinic.
Howlett says IHS is also working on enrolling tribal members for Obamacare. “We don’t want people waiting to get medical care, or getting turned over to collections.”
Lastly, Howlett says they are hiring a new pharmacist at IHS - a recent graduate from the University of Montana - who will start in October of this year. IHS will now have three tribally enrolled pharmacists.
CSKT Child Protective Services Home Visiting Program
Rebecca “Becky” Ereaux, Early Foundations Home Visiting Program Lead Parent Educator, gave updates on their program.
The program, aimed at assisting children with healthy development and Kindergarten preparation, has been conducting home visits for about six weeks. “I see a whole lot of material and economic need,” says Ereaux. She explains that services are hard to attain for some families, and many of the young parents do not qualify for food stamps.
Ereaux invited the elders to their monthly ‘family connection meeting’; the first one is at the end of June. “We would like elders to come and give advice, or even just show the families how to do something.”
Samuel Wall, a graduating SKC Hydrology student, presented his findings on cultural and scientific connections for his class titled ‘Tribal Waters’. The students were required to present their findings to the SPCC elders as a part of their graduation requirements. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
SPCC Salish Language and Culture Camp
Vance Home Gun addressed the 2014 Culture Camp draft agenda with the elders. The camp begins on June 16 and ends June 20.
Jim Durglo suggested going through the calendar and talking about traditions that take place through out the year, as one of the activities.
SPCC elder Shirley Trahan says last year they did not have enough time to take the children out to identify plants; this year the elder suggested they go out to the tribal green house at the Ronan airport to look at native plants.
Dry meat is set on the agenda for Monday, June 16. Traditional Indian games like double ball, stick game, and shinny are also set on the agenda.
Fry bread making, medicine pouches, fire making, and a wildlife presentation by tribal wildlife biologist Steph Gillian are all considered for this year’s camp.
This year the SPCC will do Salish language instruction twice a day during the camp and a half-hour before every meal will be dedicated to teaching the Salish meal prayer.
Currently The SPCC has volunteers who demonstrate how to make chokers, mini war bonnets, and pouches; play traditional native games, and language instruction, but they are in need of volunteers to set up the two donated tipis. The only activities not confirmed are drumming and singing.
Vance noted that it is important that children come with a guardian. “This year the kids and adults will be doing activities together.”