Char-Koosta News

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SPCC Elders Council gets updates from the Preservation and Economic Development offices

By B.L. Azure
Char-Koosta News

ST. IGNATIUS — The Salish Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee Elders Council received updates on the doings of the Preservation Office and the Economic Development Program at the May meeting.

Preservation Office
“The big project for us this summer is the BPA (Bonneville Power Administration) power line rebuild through the reservation,” said Kyle Felsman of the Preservation Office. BPA will be rebuilding 150 miles of the its feeder power line from Hot Springs to Anaconda. The Preservation Office will conduct a cultural resource survey along the portion that traverses the Flathead Indian Reservation, and potentially off the reservation as the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have significant off-reservation rights in their aboriginal territory that are articulated in the 1855 Treaty of Hell Gate. “We will survey as much as we can, for sure the on-reservation portion but all of the route if we can. We are in the early stages of planning and will get out in the field late next month (June).”

Katy McDonald, Preservation Office compliance manager, gave an update about the tribal archeological sites being researched and monitored along the Clark Fork River from the Idaho state line to the Trout Creek, Montana area. The work is being done in conjunction with Washington-based Avista Utilities, an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses in the northwest and Alaska.

“We have several archeological sites — rock structure markers that mark trails, campsites, burial sites, things like that — from Trout Creek to Cabinet Gorge,” McDonald said. “People are unaware of what’s out there, we want to figure out what’s left, catalog and categorize them.”

McDonald said Avista has been very cooperative with its assistance to help locate and catalog such cultural sites.

“We are very thankful Avista has contract workers who understand the importance of this and they have been helpful,” McDonald said. “Over the past few years there has been increased recreation in the area. My job is to make sure that everything stays in place and not disturbed by people.”

Askan said there has been mitigation projects done in the area related to the riverine disturbance caused by the Noxon Rapids Dam. Now Preservation wants to focus on some “creative mitigation” applicable to the times.

“There is now historical interpretive signage in the area that let’s people know who we are and that we were in that important area,” Askan said. “There is also money for off-site mitigation such as language preservation and cultural revitalization.”

“We have to figure out how to use it (funding) to enhance cultural activities on the reservation,” McDonald said.

Director of the Economic Development Janet Camel explains the employment assistance effort at the program. (B.L. Azure photo) Director of the Economic Development Janet Camel explains the employment assistance effort at the program. (B.L. Azure photo)

Economic Development
Janet Camel, director of the Economic Development Department, told the Elders of a new program that assists Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal members find good paying employment. The program is funded by a five-year $1 million grant from Administration for Native Americans.

“We are recruiting people to participate,” Camel said. “Selena Kenmille is developing career plans for various trades to help people come up with an employment plan that could include training for new job skills to enhance employment opportunities. The assistance also includes classes that teach basic employment requirements such as when to show up for work, to call in when not able to be at work.”

Stipends are available as is financial assistance in paying bills, purchasing clothing and tools for work, among other things.

“We want to get people back to work,” Camel said.

The next and final regularly scheduled SPCC Elders Council meeting is set for 9 a.m. June 7. The Elders Council will break for the summer and resume regularly scheduled (first Wednesday of the month) in September.

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