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eNewsletter from Wisdom of the Elders
November 27th 2018


Greetings From Teresa Montana

Greetings, community! I hope you all are well and happy, and enjoying the beautiful colors of fall!

Wisdom of the Elders is transitioning and looking into the future full of hope and excitement. I would like to say, I am so very honored to be considered for the Executive Director position here at Wisdom. I have much to uphold and carry forth in the vision and mission that has laid the foundation of all that Wisdom is. Wisdom’s Board of Directors is expected to make its final decision in the new year.

I, of course, must be sure to tell you all what a wonderful and amazing staff we have. Our staff has impressed and delighted me from the first day. In getting to know each of them, I can clearly see and feel the commitment, dedication and passion in the work they do.

Tim Burgess, Multimedia Coordinator

Kunu Bearchum, Multimedia Producer

Dawn Lowe, Wisdom Workforce Development Education Coordinator

Alvey Seeyouma, Wisdom Workforce Development Crew Leader

Rose High Bear, Senior Consultant and Executive Producer

We also have two new employees. Leslie Riggs (Grand Ronde) and Marissa Spang (Northern Cheyenne, Crow). Mr. Riggs is Discovering Yidong Xinag Project Coordinator, and Mrs. Spang is Wisdom Workforce Development Coordinator for our new rural initiative. We are very fortunate and excited to have them both aboard as they bring their talents and experience to enhance our programs. Welcome to you both!!!

Special thanks to our consultants:

Lora Price, Wisdom Workforce Development Project Consultant

Jocelyn Furbush, Bookkeeper and Grant Manager

Larry Johnson, Multimedia Consultant

I also want to mention our Wisdom Workforce Development interns. After weekly classroom sessions with Dawn, our team of eight all put in many hours of hard work on the ground with our partners and for our city completing environmental assessment and habitat restoration projects.

I would like to thank all of you who were able to attend our 25-year celebration and birthday celebration for Rose High Bear on November 14th! The evening was a great success and it was wonderful to see our partners and to meet new people. I also want to thank those who were with us in thought and those that sent us your warm messages of support.

As we move into the end of this year, and the fast approaching winter season, may your lives be blessed and your hearts full of joy! I give thanks to all who lift us up and support our organization as we in turn lift those who come through our doors at Wisdom of the Elders.

My best to you all,

-Teresa Montana


Wisdom of the Elders Launches a Documentary Film Fundraiser

Wisdom of the Elders invites you to join us in completing a pair of hour-long TV programs about the effects of the warming climate on traditional Native foods and resources in Oregon. On December 12th, we will launch a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to prepare the films for broadcast.

For thousands of years, we Native Oregonians have been deeply connected to the land, our source for food, medicine and the things we need to live. We consider these to be gifts from The Creator. But today, these traditional gifts are threatened. As the climate warms up and development encroaches on our lands, our fish are getting sick, our forests are burning and our wild game is struggling to survive.

You can help bring this important story to a national audience through two hour-length video programs:  ”Native Wisdom: The People of Oregon’s Coast” and “Native Wisdom: The People of Oregon’s Interior.” While most of the shooting is done, additional funding is needed to complete these programs and ready them for broadcast on national educational television and for distribution to schools, libraries and film festivals. Post-production editing, music, sound design and mastering take lots of time and money.  We hope to raise $10,000 to do the job right.

We’ll be sending the announcement and link along soon. So oplease consider supporting Wisdom’s film project. Contributions of any size are welcome. There will be lots of great perks for you to enjoy in appreciation of your gift: free downloads, DVDs, signed original art prints and tickets to the premiere. Even if you can’t contribute, you can join us in getting the word out.

Change is coming. Let’s make it the right kind of change. Watch for news of the campaign.



Wisdom of the Elders wins Post Production Grant

November 18, 2018, Portland, OR – Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. (Wisdom) the Native-run non-profit, has received a $5,000 award from the Portland Film Office/Oregon Made Post Production Grant Program. The purpose of the funds is for post-production editing and sound design for two films in its Native Wisdom Documentary Film Series featuring today’s changing climate and how it is affecting traditional First Foods and other resources of Oregon tribes.

The documentaries will feature gifted tribal elders and indigenous scientists and their observations of ecosystems on their reservation and ceded lands where they hunt, fish and gather traditional First Foods and medicines. The films will show how traditional ecological knowledge is now influencing decisions by natural resource managers in Oregon on wildlife and resource management.

The Post-Production Film Grant Program, through a partnership between the Portland Film Office and Oregon Made Creative Foundation, supports the professional development of small, local filmmakers by providing funds for activities including sound design, scoring, editing, color correction, closed captioning, VFX and music clearances using post-production houses.

Portland-based Wisdom of the Elders, founded by the late Martin High Bear (Lakota) and his wife Rose High Bear (Athabascan), has been collecting Native oral histories, stories on history, culture and music for 25 years. Known for their award-winning radio series, “Wisdom of the Elders Radio,” and The Northwest Indian Storytellers Association events, Wisdom has started to develop documentary films. The video series “Native Wisdom,” includes programs on Alaskan Athabascan and Inupiat peoples and a pair of short films about Native Oregonians. These two films, entitled “The People of Oregon’s Coast” and “The People of Oregon’s Interior,” will be expanded to one hour each for broadcast on public television.

“Native American prophesy states that the day will come,” explains Wisdom’s Executive Producer, Rose High Bear, “when the peoples of the world will turn to Native Americans and other indigenous people to learn how to care for the earth and for one another.”

The films will be completed by Wisdom staff producers, Kunu Bearchum, Tim Keenan Burgess and edited by Lawrence Johnson.

Additional funding for the project has been provided by the National Endowment of the Arts, The Coquille Tribal Community Fund, Native Arts and Culture Foundation, Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Community Foundation and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund.




Greetings! Leslie Riggs here, the new Discovering Yidong Xinag coordinator with a few words about my first month at Wisdom of the Elders. I must say I am honored and humbled to be asked to join such a talented and committed team. I’m still in the period of finding my feet and getting used to the way things work. My primary responsibilities, as of now, are to focus on partnerships and the expansion of the Discovering Yidong Xinag curriculum. I have, however, been assisting in other ways such as; making contact with potential cultural leaders in the 9 tribal communities to be filmed for the documentary film series. I have also been looking at grants and potential funding sources to continue the wonderful work that takes place at Wisdom of the Elders. I look forward to learning more and becoming even more immersed in the projects.

Hayu masi


divider2.gifWisdom Gardens Funding Sought

Wisdom of the Elders has been creating and maintaining its Wisdom Gardens since 2012. It is located in back of its Portland’s office and includes an ethnobotanical garden, rain garden, pollinator garden, berry patches, Three Sisters Garden, and 8 raised vegetable beds.

Wisdom Workforce Education Coordinator Dawn Lowe recently submitted a request to Seed Money for funding the garden. If you would like to contribute to the garden fund, you can go to:



Discovering Our Story Television Program Airs Sunday, December 2

Our guest in December on our live TV show “Discovering our Story” will be Francene J. Blythe. This program will air at 1:00pm Sunday Dec 2ndon Comcast Channel 11.

Francene J. Blythe is Navajo, Sioux and Cherokee. She grew up in the southwest, in her mother’s culture of the Navajo, and lived her adult life in Lincoln, Nebraska, which is near her father’s Dakota band of the Sioux located in and around Sisseton, South Dakota. Her Cherokee homelands are in Cherokee, North Carolina. She is the proud mother of four grown adult children. Before going to college, her earlier work was done throughout the Midwest in theater performance, unlearning Indian stereotype workshops, and touring/producing/directing Native American plays.

Upon graduating with her Masters degree in Theater, Blythe, in 2004, began her career in Washington, D.C., where initially she helped program the First Americans Festival that celebrated the opening of the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall. At the museum, she then moved on to develop and produce cultural arts programming for the stage, working with Indigenous peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere. Shortly after the museum’s opening, she went to work at the National Geographic Society, also headquartered in Washington, D.C. where, for eight years, she strategically directed the growth and expansion of the newly formed All Roads Film Project. There she built a critically acclaimed, award-winning portfolio of film and photography grants that supported Indigenous and Native American filmmakers and photographers from around the world.

Since 2015, she has been working as the Director of Programs at the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation located in Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon. She currently serves on: the Washington State Arts Commission Board, the Native American Council at the Portland Art Museum. She also volunteers with Portland’s nonprofit AGE (Advance Gender Equity) in the Arts and Portland theaters; and most recently co-programmed Portland’s first PDX (Pretty Damn Extraordinary) Native Film Night at the Hollywood Theater that celebrated Native American History month. As Director of Programs at the foundation, she implements and oversees a mentor artist program and supports several Native Nations’ community inspiration projects in Warm Springs, Burns Paiute, Narragansett, Rhode Island and a social art project at the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Museum of Contemporary Native Art. She is also part of a PBS documentary that talks about Native art and artists called, “Native Art Now!” that is currently available on the PBS website.

As a national nonprofit organization and her employer, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation is dedicated exclusively to the revitalization, appreciation and perpetuation of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian arts and cultures nationwide.


Wisdom Film Productions Airing Soon

A selection of Wisdom of the Elders short films and segments from longer works will be airing on local cable access channels with assistance from our partner Open Signal.

Native Wisdom- People of Oregon’s Interior- Sacred Landscape

Channel 22: Saturday, 11-24-2018 01:30 pm

Channel 23: Wednesday, 11-28-2018 06:30 pm

Channel 11: Thursday, 11-29-2018 07:30 pm

Channel 22: Friday, 11-30-2018 12:30 pm

Channel 23: Monday, 12-03-2018 06:30 pm

Native Wisdom- People of Oregon’s Interior- Elder Wisdom

Channel 23: Friday, 11-23-2018 04:00 pm

Channel 22: Sunday, 11-25-2018 07:30 pm

Channel 23: Tuesday, 11-27-2018 06:30 pm

Channel 22: Friday, 11-30-2018 07:30 pm

Native Wisdom- People of the Oregon Coast- Turtle Island Storytellers

Channel 23: Sunday, 11-18-2018 05:30 pm

Channel 22: Friday, 11-23-2018 09:30 pm

Channel 23: Monday, 11-26-2018 08:00 pm

Channel 22: Thursday, 11-29-2018 06:30 pm

Native Wisdom- People of the Oregon Coast- STEAM

Channel 22: Sunday, 11-18-2018 04:00 pm

Channel 23: Wednesday, 11-21-2018 09:30 pm

Channel 22: Saturday, 11-24-2018 07:30 pm

Channel 23: Monday, 11-26-2018 07:30 pm

Native Wisdom- People of the Caribou Storytelling

Channel 23: Monday, 11-19-2018 07:30 pm

Channel 11: Thursday, 11-22-2018 07:30 pm

Channel 22: Sunday, 11-25-2018 05:00 pm

Channel 23: Tuesday, 11-27-2018 07:30 pm

TEK101-Wisdom from the South Wind

Channel 22: Sunday, 11-18-2018 12:00 pm

Channel 23: Thursday, 11-22-2018 08:00 pm

Channel 22: Monday, 11-26-2018 06:30 pm

Channel 23: Friday, 11-30-2018 07:30 pm




Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. is pleased to announce the recruitment of 8 Native American Adultsto participate in the Wisdom Agricultural Business Incubator!!

The Wisdom Agricultural Business Incubator (WABI) will support the startup and development of 6-8 businesses by Native American (American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander) adult interns to plan and create an agricultural/horticultural microenterprise business in rural Marion County, Oregon. WABI will provide support services, including entrepreneur business development training, strategic planning, business plan development and financial planning.

Interns will achieve training and create a business plan over the course of a 3-month PAID internship from March to May 2019. Training will be provided through weekly seminars in our Portland classroom, a plant nursery south of Portland and other field visits in Marion County. Even more, interns will be provided 1:1 matching funds from a local CDFI for business start up costs! Though the internship is only 3 months, interns will receive ongoing support for at least three years from the Wisdom Agricultural Coop as they continue growing their business!

This is a unique opportunity to not only grow Native owned businesses and jobs, but to also intentionally cultivate First Food/Native species in nursery/horticultural setting! By focusing on first foods, WABI will provide participants with opportunities to become skilled leaders in native plant production for multiple applications, with the unique capacity to additionally share the cultural relevance of the plants they propagate.

Applicants must be 18 years or older, be willing to start a native plant micro-business, and have:

  • High school diploma, GED, or higher education
  • Interest in Indigenous knowledge & land stewardship
  • Enthusiasm for engaging in the community and outdoors (in all weather conditions)
  • Ability to work with a professional demeanor and complete the entire internship
  • Ability to work independently & as part of a team

This opportunity is available until all positions are filled. For info or to apply, please visit our website at www.wisdomoftheelders.orgor email Marissa at [email protected]

divider2.gifOn The Occasion of the 25thAnniversary of Wisdom of the Elders

On the Red Road, we who walk it are cautious to preserve our histories and experiences in words on pages, in photographs, using audio recordings, and through video. The justifications for our 526-year oppression were and are being disseminated in these modes. In the infancy of our experiences with media, we thought “look at the harm this Bible, this social work manual, this BIA news reel, this ethnography, and this Western has done to us and our children”.

And now, as our understanding matures, as with any social influence, we come to know that it is how the influence is used that matters. In my prison day room, the encyclopedia explains wiwang wacipi (sundance) flesh offerings as “self-torture” and “self-mutilation”. My personal singular experience of perfect beauty and balance is now associated with barbarism, brutality and cruelty to any inexperienced reader.

In my lifetime I’ve never seen Indian people in mainstream media represented in the future of this country or of humanity. Power brokers of culture and cultural reference points who largely consider themselves to be Progressive Liberals are not planning for a future that has Indian people in it. They ask us to indulge in trickle-down social justice while our history is told through white eyes and white measures. In county jail I read “The Navajo: an ethnography” and reeled from the overt racism of a work my former white colleagues at the Department of Public Health and Forensic Medicine characterized as “pretty good research” to our next generation of gatekeepers of society’s opportunities and resources.

Indigenous are changing our measures of success to ingratiate ourselves to our oppressors as if home ownership, Western education, economic advancements and membership in professional classes will make us whole. The more we contribute and succeed in these areas, the more we take from the Earth and do not give back. I see study after study on indigenous communities illustrating the effects of genocide and adding a paragraph at the end about the “admirability of native resilience”. Resilience is defined as being capable of returning to an original shape or form as after having been compressed, or the ability to recover readily as from misfortune. Show me a Principle Investigator who says he has seen this and I will show you someone excusing themselves from the weight of history.

How do we then make ourselves whole? We decolonize modes of dissemination and indigenize social spaces. We offer counter-narratives in these modes and spaces. We accept work that is capacity-building and reject work that serves only to advance ourselves. We take the best parts of the examples leaders like Rose High Bear have set for us and join them to our own. Then, together, we pray through our actions.

I have been honored to serve Rose’s vision of indigenous cultural sustainability, multi-modal education, and race reconciliation because it is my vision too. To contribute to a body of work already in process without compromising your own moral compass is rare. I believe you are gathered here because you, too share this experience. I cannot see you or touch you now, but I know this indigenous space is filled with individuals I have loved and cared about in my personal and professional lives.

That is because Rose’s leadership has made Wisdom of the Elders a mission-driven organization uniquely capable of impactful and highly-responsive work guided by spirit and need, not beholden to the policies and attitudes that make large institutions harmful to the marginalized. Her work has used modern modes to celebrate and demonstrate the value of the traditional. She has created indigenous spaces and helped them by filling them with the living experiences and voices of Indian survivors. Having recorded over 400 indigenous perspectives, she has given us the ability to explore intersectionalities of privilege and disadvantage, testaments to extant genocidal policies, and diverse reports of the disparities individuals in our communities face. We are also brought to reckon with the beauties of Indian lives that have endured over five centuries of open hostility. The future path to achieving native resilience will be found in the voices Rose has preserved.

On a personal level, Rose has been a mentor to me. She taught me that it is ok to be a working professional who carries my spirituality in all settings. She believes our community members have the ability and the right to lay hands to the work of the community-based organization. She has demonstrated one example of how to live a life of service to the people. She has reclaimed a piece of the empowerment women in our traditional communities once held.

Her example has led to a strong female representation in Portland’s Native American organizations and is part of a broader awakening in native communities found in Movements like Idle No More, Standing Rock, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls and Women, and the recent election placing indigenous women in seats of national service. Our path of survival toward a future in which our children thrive is taken upon footholds secured by work like that of Rose High Bear.

On behalf of the Indian men of Snake River Correctional Institution, thank you, Rose.

Ga lo James Vann (Ga-lo Nu-tley Skildigado)

Cherokee Nation of Eastern Oklahoma

Past President, WISDOM Board of Directors

transcribed by Rebecca Whetstine, nothing added, nothing taken away.


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eNewsletter from Wisdom of the Elders
November 2018



Greetings to our Friends of Wisdom of the Elders, Inc.,

I would like to introduce myself in brief. My name is Teresa Montana. I am Eastern Cherokee and Dakota. I attended Southern Oregon State College (Southern Oregon University) in Ashland, Oregon, University of Oregon, Eugene, and Washington State University, Vancouver to name a few.

I am a United States Army Veteran, Medic. I am on the Advisory Board for the Native American Community at Washington State University, Vancouver and most recently joined the Board of Trustees for Clark County Historical Society, Vancouver.

I initially came to Wisdom of the Elders in 2012 as a member of the Advisory Council to assist in the writing and development of the Discovering Our Story curriculum. I was asked to return in March of this year to continue coordinating that same program for the Oregon Department of Corrections.

In short order I was asked to take the position of Assistant Executive Director and now will be moving into the Executive Director position at the beginning of 2019.

I must say, I am beyond delighted to head up Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. on behalf of all our Indigenous community and all our partners in the Portland Metro area.

Upon first being introduced to Wisdom, I was immediately moved in my heart to do everything I could to work with and support all that Wisdom represents. The sharing of our Indigenous knowledge to enhance our relatives’ growth and understanding of who we are and what gifts were bestowed on us by our Creator as a people. To be able to teach about those things that makes us unique and distinct, to open the minds and hearts of all people who we may come across in our daily walk is such a huge privilege and honor!

I am looking forward to the next 25 years of Wisdom of the Elders. I will do all I can with the help of our staff, partners and collaborators to expand our reach, expand our knowledge and expand the depths of understanding the Indigenous Ways of Being while creating an atmosphere of race reconciliation.

My most humble thanks and appreciation for being asked to serve.


We would like to invite you to join us in our 25th Year Celebration and recognition of Rose High Bear on her birthday to be held on November 14th.  We will celebrate all the hard work and dedication Rose has invested in our beloved Wisdom of the Elders and share the vision of the Next 25 years!

On that note, Rose was recently featured in Our Prosperous World, a blog edited by Sara DeHoff, which “offers resources for building a vibrant global community and provides tools and training to help diverse groups work together better.” The link is at:  https://www.ourprosperousworld.com/cultivating-spiritual-prosperity/.

Come celebrate in recognition of Rose High Bear



Wisdom’s Multimedia Producer Kunu Bearchum is a 2018 DreamStarter, which Billy Mills, Founder of Running Strong for Native American Youth created in 2015. He is heading a project that uses Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and first foods to highlight biomedical and nutrition science to young Native Americans as part of a week-long summer science quest.

This summer day camp included a field trip to the first foods garden at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) with Rosa Frutos (Warm Springs), Program coordinator for the Northwest Native American Center of Excellence and Dove Spector, Senior Research Assistant. The group also took a trip to Mt Hood to gather water and first foods with Marie Knight and Jessica Rojas, and another trip up the Columbia River Gorge with Storyteller Ed Edmo (Shoshone-Bannock) to tour the She Who Watches petroglyphs and learn about Native American life on the river before Celilo Falls was flooded. The youth also enjoyed service learning activities at Wisdom Gardens located in back of Wisdom’s office, adjacent to Kelly Butte Natural Area in SE Portland.

We’re proud to announce that Kunu was also nominated for two 2018 Native American Music Awards. He also presented an award at the NAMMY Award Ceremony at Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino in Niagara Falls, New York in October.  His music video “So Precious” has also been chosen for the 2018 LA SkinsFest, which is taking place November 13-18 in Los Angeles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o07Vk1s1Abk



This Sunday, November 4, Wisdom of the Elders will broadcast its next issue of Discovering our Story Television Program. You’re welcome to tune in. The program airs on the first Sunday of every month at 1:00 PM on Comcast Channel 11. Our program is re-broadcast on the Tuesday following the live studio broadcast at 10:00 PM on Comcast Channel 22, and again on the Friday following the live studio broadcast at 9:00 AM on Comcast Channel 23.

Our guest will be Darlene Foster, Wasco/Warm Springs elder, traditional storyteller and traditional food gatherer with the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs. She served as a consultant with Wisdom during production of its third series of Wisdom of the Elders Radio Programs in 2005. She also served as an Advisory Council member of the Northwest Indian Storytellers Association.

Darlene serves as Gambling Prevention Outreach Specialist at Native American Rehabilitation Association in Portland, Oregon and lives with her family in Milwaukie, Oregon. Please tune in at 1:00 pm, Sunday the 4th!



Wisdom’s multimedia team, Tim Burgess (Paiute, Shoshone) and Kunu Bearchum (Northern Cheyenne, Hochunk) plus Consultant Larry Johnson traveled to southern Oregon recently. They filmed interviews with world renowned Takelma Grandma Aggie (Agnes Baker Pilgrim), and Klamath Modoc visual artist Ka’ila Farrell-Smith for our ongoing Native Wisdom Documentary Film series. They also gathered b-roll for the documentary project.

Here are some behind the scenes photos from our trip to Southern Oregon!

Takelma Grandma Aggie (Agnes Baker Pilgrim)

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith (Klamath Modoc)



Wisdom Workforce Development’s Fall 2018 Internship is underway again. The WWD Interns work with partners in the field conducting service learning activities two days a week and classroom education one day a week. The interns have an opportunity learn from experiences with almost two dozen collaborative partners including Metro, Portland Bureau of Environmental Service, Portland Parks and Recreation, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Friends of Trees and Zenger Farms.

The in-class training, led by Wisdom’s Education Coordinator Dawn Lowe (Mohawk, Apache, Hawaiian) covers topics like habitat restoration, invasive species identification, site assessments, indigenous plant species recognition, phytoremediation, climate change solutions and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK).

Recently, the WWD interns had an opportunity to compare the dangerous Poison Hemlock or Conium Maculatum. Poison Hemlock is also known by other common names such as: English Hemlock, Australian Carrot Fern, Irish devil’s bread, devil’s porridge, poison parsley, spotted corobane and spotted hemlock. This plant is often confused with similar looking plants like fennel, chervil, anise, coltsfoot, Queen Anne’s Lace, wild parsley, Osha and wild carrot. The most distinctive feature of poison hemlock is that the entire plant is hairless. In contrast, the look-a-likes have hair somewhere on the plant such as the stem, leaf or root surface. Poison hemlock also has purple spotting towards the bottom of the stem that goes into a solid purple before going into the ground.

Poison hemlock is a highly toxic herbaceous flowering plant in the carrot family Apiaceae. It is native to parts of Europe and Northern Africa. A hardy plant capable of living in a variety of environments, hemlock is widely naturalized in the Pacific Northwest.

The WWD interns learn how to distinguish between poisonous lookalikes that are non-native and those plants that are similar but native to the region. Interns compared the root of the Poison hemlock to the Osha Root and noted the difference in color i.e. Poison Hemlock root being hairless and creamy white, Osha brown with crown of root hairy.

The interns took notes and cell phone photos for easy identification. We also discussed environments poison-hemlock likes to grow in and how the Pacific Northwest is prime because of its moist climate.



The Wisdom Workforce Internship crew has had many wonderful service learning opportunities working with Luke Bonham, Residents Assets Manager with Rose Community Development Corporation this year.

Our biggest effort most recently completed has been to carry out landscape improvements at Bellrose Station, its apartment complex in SE Portland. Aging junipers were removed that obstructed visibility and harbored rodents. The grounds were then mulched and prepared for planting this fall. A variety of over 190 low maintenance and pollinator shrubs were planted at the main entrance, and at the entrances of residents’ apartments.

Eight trees were planted to provide shade in the summer. An arborvitae hedge was installed for screening adjacent to the children’s playgrounds and 10 raised bed boxes were built for vegetable gardening.

It has been rewarding to the interns and residents alike to witness the transformation. This project was especially rewarding for the variety of skills it provided our interns to develop. Our Crew Leaders led newer members which helped to build their work and leadership skills.

In addition to working at Bellrose Station, Wisdom Workforce Development has been able to work at six housing properties this year, removal invasive vegetation, planting native plants in bio-swales and pollinator borders, mulching to protect soils and even upgrading a playground. Thank you, Rose CDC for providing us these opportunities to make a difference revitalizing  homes of our community members.

Wisdom Workforce Development offers two three-month internships to Native American adults in the Portland area, one in spring and one in fall. It provides environmental assessment and habitat restoration training both in the classroom and in the field with diverse hands on service learning experiences.


ROSE Community Development Corporation is a non-profit dedicated to revitalizing outer southeast Portland neighborhoods by providing affordable housing, improving economic conditions and providing the tools and supports community residents need to improve their quality of Life.

From the website at  https://rosecdc.org/:  Rose CDC is dedicated to Revitalizing Outer Southeast Portland neighborhoods, through the development of good homes and economic opportunities. We are rooted in the belief that affordable housing gives people the opportunity to build better lives. But since our first project — rehabilitating a single house in Lents for a low-income family in 1992 — our work to revitalize our community has extended far beyond housing. We are improving economic conditions in our neighborhoods and giving people the tools and support they need to improve their lives.


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eNewsletter from Wisdom of the Elders
September 2018



Wisdom Workforce Development Internships for Native Adults and Youth Starting Soon

Our Wisdom Workforce Development internship starts again soon. We are recruiting Native American/Alaskan Native/Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults for paid internships in environmental assessment and habitat restoration. This is a paid internship opportunity. For 13 weeks, the team will complete one day of classroom education a week plus two days a week of service learning activities.


This is our sixth training for Native adults and it has been supported by an amazing group of collaborative partners who have provided our workforce team with diverse service learning experiences in local natural areas. The work is rigorous and conducted in sometimes inclement cold and rainy and windy weather. In the summer, it can be very hot and humid. However, it can also create a career pathway to a conservation field as part of Wisdom Workforce Development LLC, Wisdom’s social venture or as an employee or intern with one of Wisdom’s environmental partners.


cropped_Alvey-Karrie-Doug-Carlos-willow-staking-compressed 2Whether you are enrolled with a federally recognized tribe or self-identified as Native American, we will welcome your application. The application form is at our website at www.wisdomoftheelders.org or feel free to call Wisdom’s office at 503-775-4014 for an interview.

We are also encouraging Native American/Alaskan Native/Hawaiian/Pacific Islander youth (ages 18-25) to apply for a paid internship in workforce readiness for green jobs this fall. They have an opportunity during October to be part of a team of youth of color completing classroom education and service learning in the Portland area. Topics will include: environmental education, park and open space maintenance, green building and deconstruction, horticulture and urban forestry, waste management and trucking. More information and a link to the online application is available shortly, So watch our website at  www.wisdomoftheelders.org.


Wisdom Workforce Development LLC partnering with Portland Bureau of Environmental Services:

Wisdom’s social venture, Wisdom Workforce Development LLC reached agreement and developed a new contract with Portland Bureau of Environmental Services this summer. We finalized the new contract in June and have been working in local park and natural areas with BES staff. Work has included manual invasive species removal, seed collection and cleaning of Native species, and planting. Special kudos to our team which is led by Alvey Seeyouma (Hopi) and includes Autumn (Blackfoot), David Eys (Blackfoot) and Bruce Amick (Blackfoot).


We have been conducting habitat restoration work on public lands for the past several years, first working with Metro collecting seeds at Quamash Prairie and other sites and then cleaning and processing the seeds at Metro’s Native Plant Center. Wisdom’s LLC has fulfilled contracts this year with Metro, Friends of Trees, Friends of Trees, West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District and other partners in Lents Urban Renewal Area and other parts of the Portland metropolitan area. Special thanks to our partners!


Wisdom is Funded by National Endowment for the Arts:

Wisdom was honored to receive two grants from National Endowment for the Arts this spring. Both grants feature recording and sharing the cultural arts of Oregon tribes and responses to the changing environment. We have relied upon funding from NEA since 2002 when we received our first grant for production of Wisdom of the Elders Radio Program.


We have already filmed tribal elders, indigenous scientists and cultural leaders from five tribes and this new funding will help us complete filming of up to four remaining tribes. These two grants fund work from June 2018 through May 2019. Wisdom’s media  team includes Co-Director Tim Burgess (Paiute, Shoshone), Co-Producer Kunu Bearchum (Northern Cheyenne, Hochunk), Co-Producer/Co-Director Larry Johnson (with Lawrence Johnson Productions) and Rose High Bear (Deg Hit’an Dine, Inupiat) who continues to serve as Executive Producer. We also received valuable assistance from two Media Interns from Reed College this summer, Karina Ceron and Andrea Deniz.


One grant from NEA-Media provides funding for our media team to complete two full-length documentaries of Oregon tribes for the Native Wisdom Documentary Film Series. We have already completed short docs and this funding allows us to produce 54:30-minute productions. We are planning a series of Film Screenings and Community Consultations in Oregon plus the films will be entered into native, environmental and educational film festivals around the country. We are grateful for matching funds from National Endowment for the Humanities, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Running Strong for American Indian Youth, and Oregon Arts Commission.


The second grant from NEA-Folk and Traditional Arts will fund Wisdom to video gifted cultural leaders of Oregon tribes regarding their cultural arts and how they are dependent upon Native plant species in the natural world. When recordings are completed, some will be selected for inclusion in the Native Wisdom Documentary Film series. We will also hold a second First Foods Symposium and Storytelling Gathering where film clips will be shown and First Foods specialists will present. This public event is currently being planned for April 2019. We will update you on the plans for these projects in the upcoming newsletters and at our website

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Opening of Dairy Creek Channel on Sauvie Island Begins:

Wisdom’s Simone Florendo (Wasco/Eastern Cherokee) sang the River Song (Wasco) and an honor song (Cathedral Lakes) at the West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District groundbreaking ceremony at Sauvie Island this summer when the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce celebrated the opening of the Dairy Creek channel connecting the Columbia River to upper Sturgeon Lake. Wisdom’s Interim Executive Director Teresa Montana, Multimedia Coordinator Tim Burgess and Kunu Bearchum also attended to support and document the event.

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The site is located off Reeder Road (at mile post 7) on Sauvie Island. Their project completes restoration design to restore the hydrologic connection of the Columbia River to upper Sturgeon Lake so as to prevent further loss of wetland habitats in Sturgeon Lake important to both migratory juvenile Chinook Salmon and the plethora of waterfowl and other wildlife that use the lake. A combination of river flow regulation and human manipulation of natural levee formations had resulted in disconnection of the Sturgeon Lake floodplain from the Columbia River. It was suggested at the event that the bridge onto Sauvie Island receive an Indian name, possibly Wapato Bridge. Wapato is a traditional First Food root species consumed by tribes along the Columbia River.




Honoring Peta Mni

Wisdom was shocked to hear the recent news of the passing of Peta Mni, Wisdom’s past Multimedia and Communications Coordinator. Rose posted a message on his FB page over the holiday weekend and is sharing excerpts here for those of you who remember him and loved him. Thank you for remembering him in your prayers.


“It has been a month since his passing, but it was just confirmed last night at this FB site. I had heard mention after getting back home, but I was in disbelief. I had been away at Hanbleceya vision quest camp and then headed off to another Sun Dance within a few days. After resting up this past week, I started to search for an announcement hoping not to find it. I’m so sorry to have just found it. I’d like to remember my friend and relative, Peta.


I remember the first time we met outside of a deli on SE Division Street in Portland. I had met with him to interview him for our Multimedia and Communications Coordinator position at our Native American nonprofit, Wisdom of the Elders, Inc.  I don’t believe we ever started the interview. We spoke of things we shared in common, of Sun Dance and Hanbleceya and about Wisdom’s Founder, the late Martin High Bear, Peta’s work in Hawaii and my past two decades recording and preserving the voices of Native elders. I still remember the moment his eyes teared up revealing a tender heart filled with empathy and compassion. It confirmed to me that he would be perfect on our team.


Peta and I grew close working together at Wisdom. I believe it was in 2009. We continued to work together until he moved to NYC. He helped us video record Native elders and storytellers for our Discovering Our Story series and he trained Native youth in film production. It was not easy because community turmoil would sometimes interrupt our work. But we kept our focus on our work and felt blessed for the opportunity to meet and preserve the messages of the Native elders we recorded. They all suffered from historical trauma and as they shared their stories in front of the camera that Peta ran, they would tell how they had risen above their suffering to become a community leader. This made it possible for us to share their beauty in our health and wellness curriculum and at our website.


I think it was 2012 when he moved to NYC. We were completing our Discovering Our Story series with its focus on the Hero’s Journey of Transformation. Peta was finalizing post production of 36 video recordings and we were adding lesson plans to share with Native elders and others from the Portland area and beyond. He had to go back to NYC he said he had to clear up some old trauma in order to fulfill his twelfth step from orphan to the hero within. He had been completing his own hero’s journey steps and said this was why he had to go back. For most of us, this is a 5-step journey, but for Peta, there were seventeen steps.

Peta had a Lakota spirit name which means Fire and Water. He felt comfortable and a sense of belonging in our Native American community. The true meaning of his name which was gifted to him by the Spirit World is meaningful and deep. He walked a spiritual path and we felt good relating with him as friend and relative. Like all of you who have said these kind and loving words this past month to honor and acknowledge him, I’m also sad and grieving his loss.


Many of us believe that when we cross over, the Spirit World gives us a year to look back at all the events and people in our lives.  And then when our spirit is released, we travel home to the Spirit World where we find happiness and fulfillment and healing among our ancestors and family in the Spirit World. I’m sure he is already busy during his year, looking back at all the events and loves of his life, finding the meaning and the richness in his relationships and experiences. With the support of our prayers and love for him, I’m sure he will find what he was always searching for.


I love you, Peta, and will always remember you. And someday, when I journey home, I will see you again and we can continue our hero’s journey of transformation together.”


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