more on co-management with tribes

I received a response to my blog post about Deb Haaland and cooperative management of government lands. The writer was Roger Amerman, currently “USFS Native American Outreach and Recruitment Specialist” on the Clearwater and Nez Perce National Forests.

Roger is enrolled Choctaw, but married to a Nez Perce woman and living on the Nez Perce Reservation. He tells me that in his (Choctaw) culture, children are raised in the culture of the mother. Roger is dutifully raising their son a Nez Perce man.

More background: Roger is a geologist with a degree from Colorado School of Mines, has done graduate work at Washington State University, and is a key part of the Josephy Center’s ongoing program we call “Head and Heart,” an examination of landscapes in the Wallowa Country through the lenses of scientists and those of Nez Perce elders and language specialists. The photo accompanying this post has Roger talking with walwama band elders from Nespelem at an ancient site along the Minam River.

For the record, Roger is also an accomplished beadworker with work in museums and private collections. He’s also a wonderful instructor in beadwork who has done workshops for us here at the Josephy Center.

Here’s Roger’s response to my post:

“Hi Rich, I’m afraid (in a good way) that your blog about co-management and co-stewardship of public lands located in Tribal Homelands is already outdated my friend. As we speak, the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho and the USFS Clearwater-Nez Perce National Forests of central Idaho are Nationally highlighted as a model of initiating a 5-year plan to truly co-manage public lands in Nez Perce Homelands/ Nez Perce “America”. And, they have well-endowed resources to assist in making this unprecedented relationship blossom and manifested to the rest of the Nation. I know this because I just gained meaningful employment to be in the middle of this “ground-breaking” relationship between the NP Tribe and USFS!! In the PNW, the other significant exclusive showcase and well-endowed relationship that is taking place and being initiated, is between the NPS Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Nation of Montana. Phenomenal!!!!!! The other tribes and Federal Government entities of the PNW need to get their act together and “jump on board” for the win (in true co-management and co-stewardship of the sacred land and its resources). I am hoping the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho and the other USFS Forests in the Nez Perce “homeland” (Wallow-Whitman NF, Payette NF, Umatilla NF) form similar benevolent co-management relationships in the near future that will properly and reverently take care of the land.”

Roger’s thoughts got me to thinking that we already have co-management of some fisheries on the Columbia and its tributaries with the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission working with state and federal fisheries agencies. We’ve learned that there is important Native knowledge of fish and water. Now we are welcoming Native peoples into a new realm of natural resource management. Hurray for Deb Haaland and the Biden Administration!

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Photo by Ellen Bishop: Roger Amerman and walwama band elders on the Minam

Sacred Lands II–The Yurok

The Yurok Indians in Northern California, decimated by the 1840s gold rush and white settlement, lost or swallowed up by timber companies and Federal agencies and actions, regained federal recognition and 5,000 acres—or one percent—of their traditional land base in 1986. The tribe is now 5,000 strong, and, according to YES Magazine, holds 100,000 acres of tribal lands.

Read Rich’s Post →

Reparations and “Land-Back”

It’s complicated—but here are some first thoughts:

In 2014, Ta-Nehisi Coates made the argument for reparations to the descendants of African-American slaves in The Atlantic Magazine. The country, he said, would never be “whole” until it came to terms with the bad chapters of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial discrimination in our past.Read Rich’s Post →

The passing of two friends

There is so much to say about my friend Ray Cook, the man who introduced me to Rupert Costo, the Jesuits, and Father Serra’s journey to sainthood. Ray passed away quietly in California, and, unfortunately, did not see the blog post he inspired—I think it would have made him smile, though the new Pope’s ignorance of California’s Indian genocide would only have disturbed him. Rest in Peace Ray. I am sure that the Indian woman you had to move to make way for a California highway long ago has forgiven you—and if not you built up a store of good deeds and left teachings on behalf of her brothers and sisters in your remaining years.

Ray reminded us that the peculiar relationship of Indians to land is fundamentally different from the notion that land is an “input” into economic equations, a “commodity” to be bought and sold. Being “of” the land is qualitatively different than being “from” a nation, state, farm-size or city-size chunk of ground. Thank you Ray.

John Jackson was a long-time friend of Alvin’s, and although we were not close friends, I remember fondly a meal with Alvin, John and his wife when we were touring with Alvin’s memoir. I might have this wrong, but I think that Alvin promoted publication of John’s first book, Children of the Fur Trade: Forgotten Metis of the Pacific Northwest with Mountain Press in Montana. Oregon State University now has it as a “Northwest Reprint,” a continuing reminder that descendants of European or Canadian fathers and Native American mothers (Johns’ own heritage was here), these mixed-blood settlers called “Metis,” were pivotal to the development of the Oregon Country, and have been generally neglected in its written history. Today we know them by the names they left on the land and the waters: The Dalles, Deschutes, Grand Ronde, Portneuf, Payette, but you’ll have to read John’s book to see the complex society of mixed bloods—the offspring of mostly French trappers and women from Western tribes, with dashes of Iroquois, Delaware, and Sandwich Islander—Hawaiian—in the mix, that comprise this “forgotten” element in our midst, descendants of the people who guided the first settlers and even the missionaries here, who now live on reservations, and, in some cases, in Northwest cities and suburbs mostly oblivious to their ancestry.

Because of John I’ve kept my own eye open for stories of the Metis, and announce to anyone who will listen that theirs might be a singular story of a melding of cultures in North America that created a new culture. Metis is a mixture of blood, language and religion, and one, I might add, that Canada now recognizes as a First Nation. But theirs is a Canadian story as sad as that of the stories of displaced tribes and leaders Joseph, Tecumseh, or Sitting Bull on this side of the border. It’s a story of Metis rebellion on the exit of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the transfer of land to the Canadian government. And then the execution of Metis leader Lois Rial, guilty, so they said, of “high treason” for claiming indigenous lands.

On our side of the border we’ve scarcely heard of Rial. We don’t much know David Thompson, who mapped the Columbia, or the Hudson’s Bay Company beyond John McLoughlin, Chief HBC factor at Vancouver, and, some say, the “father of Oregon.” “What does that mean,” we ask.

Thank you John for showing us these pieces of our Northwest past, and for reminding us that Canada is part of North America too, and that our history—the good, the bad, and the outrageously ugly, is a shared one.

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