Wisdom's Updates and Announcements

Dear Wisdom Community,  We hope everyone is off to a great start to 2018! Wisdom honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past week as a day of service and…We hope everyone is off to a great start to 2018! Wisdom honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past week as a day of service and…

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Join us as we kickoff our Wisdom of the Elders Winter Fundraising Drive with #GivingTuesday! #GivingTuesday is one of the biggest days of the year for non-profit…

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Dear Friends and Relatives,  

The return of Spring is a time of rebirth and new beginnings! It inspires us to reflect on our survival of winter and seek out ways to create new pathways to sustainability, especially our relationships with family, relatives, and community. It is a season for new hope and expanding the principles of generosity and compassion.  As we leave the long chilly nights of winter, enter into a new season, welcome the sun, its warmth and promise, please remember the Wisdom of the Elders and if possible, make a tax-deductible contribution.

Wisdom of the Elders is a native non-profit organization devoted to recording, preserving, and sharing Native oral history, cultural arts, language concepts and traditional ecological knowledge of our exemplary indigenous elders, storytellers and tribal leaders. Your support and contributions have enhanced our commitment to Native American cultural sustainability, multimedia education, and race reconciliation. We are grateful for your help in making that a reality.

We pledge renewed energy and hard work to ensure that our sacred stories and traditional ecological knowledge are recognized and preserved.  We are confident that with your generous donations, WOTE will continue the good work.

Thank you for contributing to the success of the Wisdom of the Elders and joyful Spring Blessings to you all!

–Gerry RainingBird and the Wisdom Staff

Announcements and Latest News

Next week we will officially kick off our 2018 Spring Fundraising Drive! We are always grateful for your continued support of our organization and programs!


Upcoming Film Screenings and Community Consultations

Saturday April 7th, 7:30 pm – Film Screening and Community Consultation at Portland State University NASCC

Thursday April 19th, 6:00 pm – Film Screening and Community Consultation at Pacific University for Earth Week

National Endowment for the Humanities + Wisdom of the Elders

At the end of last year, Wisdom was a recipient of a NEH grant for $100,000! We are so honored to have been the recipient of such a prestigious award and we are asking our community to help us match a portion of this amount — we need your help to succeed and are grateful for your donations. We will be accepting donations to help match this grant over the next several weeks. Please help us spread the word.

Green Workforce Academy Project Coordinator Job Description Now Available:

The Green Workforce Collaborative, which includes a group of Portland-area communities of color including Wisdom, is recruiting for a Green Workforce Academy Project Coordinator. We would like to acknowledge our lead agency Ecotrust and funding from Meyer Memorial Trust for this development.

Wisdom and the collaborative members ​invites​ ​culturally​ ​responsive​ ​educators​ ​and​ ​workforce development​ ​professionals​ ​to​ ​apply​ ​for ​the​ ​position of Green​ ​Workforce​ ​Academy​ ​Project​ ​Coordinator.​ This individual will manage a pilot green workforce training program targeted toward members of communities historically underrepresented in the mainstream environmental movement:  African American, Native American and other underrepresented communities.

The Green Workforce Collaborative is a partnership of seven vibrant Portland-based nonprofit organizations:  Ecotrust, The Blueprint Foundation (TBF), the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), Self Enhancement Inc. (SEI), Second Chances Are for Everyone (SCAFE), The ReBuilding Center, and Wisdom.

The job description is now available and the application process is open now through March 30th!

Position Opening: Green Workforce Academy Project Coordinator

Summary: Culturally responsive educators and workforce development professionals are invited to apply for the position of Green Workforce Academy Project Coordinator. This individual will manage a pilot green workforce training program targeted toward members of communities historically underrepresented in the mainstream environmental movement, including African American and Native American communities. Seven vibrant collaborative partners in the Green Workforce Collaborative include The Blueprint Foundation (TBF), Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), Self Enhancement Inc. (SEI), The ReBuilding Center, Second Chances Are for Everyone (SCAFE), our fiscal partner Ecotrust and Wisdom of the Elders, Inc.

The Green Workforce Academy Project Coordinator will possess skills to plan, organize, develop and implement the Green Workforce Training Program. They will be responsible to:

  • Develop project educational outreach and recruitment:

* Develop culturally appropriate materials to promote the Green Workforce Training program * Distribute the opportunity to individuals and groups where potential trainees may congregate (churches, schools, recreational centers, gatherings, community centers, etc.)

* Create a community resource network for Green Workforce trainees

* Recruit trainees from African American, Native American, and other underrepresented communities

  • Support Green Workforce Academy curriculum development and implementation: * Support development of workforce hard skills curriculum

* Coordinate workforce readiness soft skills curriculum

* Coordinate implementation of pilot training program for 10 young adults of color

* Refer trainees to complementary services as needed

  • Support Green Workforce Collaborative activities that fulfill program requirements:

* Coordinate monthly Collaborative core team meetings

* Manage ongoing email, phone and other communications among the Collaborative members

* Convene quarterly large-group, cross-sector Collaborative working sessions

* Support 1-2 networking sessions to connect trainees with prospective employers and additional opportunities * Provide written and oral reports as required to fulfill project objectives

* Other duties as assigned to reach project goals and objectives as outlined in the contract

Qualifications: The successful individual will possess the following: Experience in culturally responsive education, job training and workforce development settings; Established relationships within relevant ethnic and cultural communities; Success in community organizing, social services, community health care or affordable housing a plus; Commitment to exemplary cultural values essential to restoring individuals and families is a plus; A track record of success and spirit of collaboration with proven ability to work and communicate with efficiency, flexibility, diplomacy, tact and good humor; Experience working with youth and young adults; Self-disciplined in work responsibilities, responding with enthusiasm and imagination; Strong organization and communication skills; Bachelors degree or higher, OR any combination of education and experience that provides the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to successfully perform position responsibilities

Salary and Benefits: The position will be 0.75 FTE with salary of $30,000 with possible increase to full-time and future medical benefits. Duration: 1 year, renewable contingent on funding. Reports to Wisdom of the Elders, Inc.

To Apply: Submit one file with both cover letter and resume to [email protected] using Subject Line: Wisdom Green Workforce Project Coordinator. Application deadline 3/30/2018; anticipated start date April 2018.

Download Description: Green Workforce Collaborative Position Description final



>>>> January 2017 >>>>

Wisdom’s Emerging Native Filmmaker Internship program was expanded with a film equipment grant from Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission. In 2017, our multimedia team provided three-month internships for 12 Native American interns who learned about an element of environmental science and produced short documentaries that integrated traditional ecological knowledge. These gifted interns continue to be special guests on Wisdom’s monthly Discovering Our Story Television Program with the short films they produced also screened on the program. Our multimedia team includes Tim Burgess (Paiute, Shoshone), Kunu Dittmer-Bearchum (Northern Cheyenne, Hochunk) and Joseph Colina (Cherokee). Special thanks goes out to the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation for their support of our internship program and to our site partner, Open Signal, whose television studio we use for our monthly television program.

>>>> February 2017 >>>>

The Eleventh Annual Northwest Indian Storytelling Gathering was held for 175 people and included our First Annual Traditional First Foods Symposium featuring four Native American scholars, food gatherers and elders. Funding for this event was provided by National Endowment for the Arts for the past 11 years. Events were held in partnership with Portland Community College – Cascade Campus and Chemawa Indian School.

>>>> March 2017 >>>>

Wisdom Workforce Development held its third environmental assessment and habitat restoration workforce training for low-income Native American adults. They completed service learning in the Lents Urban Renewal Area and other part of Johnson Creek Watershed and the greater Portland metropolitan area during the three-month training. Work included planting of traditional First Foods species in the 50 -foot buffer below Zenger Farm. Special thanks to funding from Metro, Prosper Portland, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland Parks and Recreation, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Zenger Farm and local schools that provided volunteers interested in holistic environmental education. Funding support continues to be needed to match the Prosper Portland grant so this important Native American workforce initiative can continue into the future.

>>>> April 2017 >>>>

The Native Wisdom Documentary Film Festival was held in Portland on Saturday, April 15 for 175 guests. Two new documentary films were shown featuring Oregon tribes, their emerging environmental issues and rich cultural arts. Wisdom’s film production team led by Executive Producer Rose High Bear and Producer/Director Larry Johnson (Lawrence Johnson Productions) worked for three years years to fund, record and produce these two films. They are part of the series of four short documentary films which have been produced since 2012. Partners include the Northwest Film Center and funders Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Oregon Cultural Trust, Spirit Mountain Community Fund and Regional Arts and Culture Council.

Wisdom is continuing to seek funding support for the upcoming production of two full length documentary films and is continuing to screen the short docs that have been produced.

(Left: Larry Johnson and Rose Highbear on production, Right: Rose HighBear interviewing Tom Younker (Coquille) for Native Wisdom Films)

>>>> May 2017 >>>>

Wisdom’s team traveled to Corvallis and Eugene in May to hold Film Screening and Community Consultation events in partnership with the Oregon State University Native American Longhouse and University of Oregon’s Tribal Climate Program. Funders for this outreach included the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation and the Oregon Cultural Trust. The Wisdom Workforce Development interns traveled to Corvallis to attend OSU School of Forestry’s Traditional Ecological Knowledge Conference. Many thanks to Gail Woodside and Valerie Goodness who helped to arrange these events.

We will continue to hold Film Screenings and Community Consultations for our friends and colleagues into 2018 upon request from sponsors.

(Top Left: Presenters at Traditional Ecological Knowledge Conference at OSU, Top Right: Wisdom at the OSU Longhouse)

>>>> June 2017 >>>>

Our Native American crew at Wisdom Workforce Development LLC gained new work opportunities thanks to partnerships with Friends of Trees, WHPacific and West Multnomah Soil and Waters Conservation District. They had a range of opportunities from planting and mulching trees in Lents and other neighborhoods, to planting Native plant species in a natural area in Lake Oswego and at NARA Northwest, and helping WMSWCD add diversity issues to their trainings for partners and community members.

(Left: Wisdom Workforce finishing Beaver cages at NARA, Right: Wisdom Workforce installing Beaver cages around trees at NARA)

>>>> July 2017 >>>>

Wisdom’s Native youth leadership initiative, Discovering Yidong Xinag* provided fun environmental education classes at the Native American Youth and Family Center for 67 youth who enjoyed fun service learning in local natural areas. In the spring, we had also provided training for more than 100 7th grade students at Highland Park Middle School. This culturally tailored multimedia curriculum is now expanding into the DYX Educational Toolkit for tribes with the addition of film clips from the Native Wisdom Documentary Film Series being added to the lesson plans. We are piloting it in 2018 in partnership with Oregon tribes and anticipate it will help fulfill the mandate that Oregon tribal history and heritage will be taught in public schools of Oregon starting in 2019. (*means “Discovering the Old Wisdom” in Deg Xinag dialect of Athabascan)

We have grown thanks to generous support from Miller Foundation, Running Strong for American Indian Youth, Charlotte Martin Foundation and Nike N-7. We are now seeking partnerships and funding to continue expansion into 2018.

>>>> August 2017 >>>>

Eight Emerging Native Filmmakers finalized production of their own short documentary films they learned to produce during the summer months. They learned video field production in June, began to record in July and completed post production editing by the end of August. This group also served as our Native Peer Mentors during the summer at the NAYA summer science and culture camp sessions, learning advanced environmental science, leadership and mentoring as well as film production.  We appreciate the support of our funders: Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. We enjoyed our partnership with Open Signal which trained two emerging Native filmmakers inn TV studio production to support behind the scenes at Discovering Our Story Television Program which is broadcast live monthly at their studios.

Multimedia intern Adrienne Moat operating Multimedia intern Marcos Alatorre
(Left: Multimedia intern Adrienne Moat operating HDTV Broadcast camera at Open Signal for Discovering Our Story TV show, Right: Multimedia intern Marcos Alatorre operating HDTV camera at Open Signal for Discovering Our Story TV show)

>>>> September 2017 >>>>

Wisdom staff took a group of Portland-area storytellers up to the Northwest Indian Storytelling Association’s Storytellers Retreat and Public Storytelling Gathering in Seattle. The weekend included public storytelling events, trainings and an organizational meeting at the weekend retreat center as NISA becomes its own nonprofit after being managed by Wisdom since 2004. These activities were funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and hosted by Daybreak Star Culture Center at Discovery Park in Seattle.

Wisdom plans to hold tribal storytelling events in the Portland area and is seeking sponsors and other funding sources so they can continue into the future.

>>>> October 2017 >>>>

Gerry RainingBird joined the Wisdom family in October when he came aboard as Wisdom’s new Executive Director while co-founder Rose High Bear transitioned to a role as Senior Consultant and Executive Producer. Wisdom’s Executive Transition project has been funded by Meyer Memorial Trust, The Collins Foundation and NoVo Foundation.


>>>> November 2017 >>>>

Rose High Bear doing the community consultation at OMSI

Rose High Bear facilitating discussion during the community consultation portion of our OMSI Film Screening.

Six Film Screenings and Community Consultations were held during Native American Heritage Month. This included Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the State Capitol in Salem, Oregon City Public Library and Intel. These were funded by Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Arts Commission, Coquille Indian Foundation and the Regional Arts and Culture Council. Partners included OMSI, Oregon Department of Human Services, Oregon Department of Indian Education, Oregon Youth Authority, Oregon City Public Library and the Native American network at Intel. Thank you to all that came out to make them a success!

>>>> December 2017 >>>>

Wisdom expanded the Discovering Yidong Xinag Educational Toolkit and will provide it early in 2018 starting with a pilot being planned with an Oregon tribe. This culturally-tailored multimedia curriculum features film clips from the Native Wisdom Documentary Film Series with indigenous science, traditional ecological knowledge and cultural arts. These cultural elements are being integrated into environmental science lesson plans and includes fun service learning activities in local natural areas. We are aligning materials to Next Generation Science Standards and providing professional development trainings for educators. This expansion has been funded by the generosity of Spirit Mountain Community Fund, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Running Strong for American Indian Youth, Charlotte Martin Foundation and Nike N-7.We are now seeking funding for further expansion of this educational initiative designed to strengthen educational engagement and academic achievement of Native American and other low-income students and improve social and emotional learning.


(Two shots from our production of the film Native Wisdom People of the Oregon Coast, capturing The Coquille Tribe Lamprey Float on the South Coquille River and the gathering of tea leaves.)