News from Wisdom of the Elders


Don’t forget to join us for an evening with Wisdom


The planning for our annual fund raising dinner event is well underway and we are proud to announce that Roger Fernandes will be our keynote speaker as well as our featured artist for “An Evening with Wisdom” for our fifth annual event Friday evening, June 10, 2016 in Portland OR.

WrMkQ0mWZXdjaVAUHt1YHcvBIKvL0ns1Lj99Uzlc6Imey-lMTCZhaOP_hQE0cEOyJohWLEpKQc37ZbSM9vMTu9XaaZ1U_B3K0mBVtn6vijJcbmZI773pi8K0MshCKjbi7vME6tlNPjDdcEbaXFf2sOIsvSeF-VekmphtMFo=s0-d-e1-ftRoger Fernandes is a member of the Lower Elwha Band of the S’Klallam Indians from the Port Angeles, Washington, area. He describes himself as an urban Indian since his mother, Violet Charles, moved to the city of Seattle where he was born in 1951. He is from a family of four brothers who are all active doing various cultural things like singing, basket making, artwork, and storytelling. Roger has been storytelling for about eight years. The stories he started with were simple legends. Over the years, he moved into telling myths, creation stories, flood stories, and hero stories. In sharing these types of stories Roger approaches storytelling as a way for Native people to teach non-Natives about the aspects of their culture that go beyond food, shelter, and clothing. These stories actually define the culture of the tellers. In the course of learning Native American stories, Roger has integrated stories he has learned from other cultures around the world like Mexico, Africa and Asia. All stories speak the same human language and teach the same lessons.

As a tribal historian, Roger offers a comprehensive multimedia presentation on the art of the Coast Salish people, including slides showing the art of the Salish people and provides interpretation for how their art is relevant to historical events. He has accumulated artifacts and artwork to show how the Native people of this area created their designs, art, basketry, and carving. Fernandes believes art, music, and stories reflect the culture and the culture reflects the environment. Stories lead to a spiritual and emotional understanding on how to live in the world. Roger is involved in art organizations and initiatives by and for Native American artists. He’s the Executive Director of South Wind Native Arts and Education Foundation, a small grass roots non-profit and serves on the Arts Advisory Committee for the Potlatch Fund. He has recorded a CD, “Teachings of the First People,” that shares several of the stories he tells in his performances. He won a Folk Life award from the Washington Arts Commission for his work in teaching about Coast Salish art. He has a degree in Native American Studies from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

Roger does a lot of work in schools and tailors his presentations to youth. Children understand stories at one level and so he gives them access to stories that are easy to interpret. Native people call their stories “the teachings” and are the fundamental way of teaching children. He likes them to be involved in the interpretive process. Elders have another level of understanding and bring wisdom and knowledge to any discussion, so Fernandes incorporates cross-generational experiences in storytelling. His audiences include community groups such as schools, libraries, parks departments, senior centers, and open forum presentations geared toward general audiences. For more information about Roger, visit his website, Turtle Island Storytellers. Roger can be contacted directly at 425-868-7503 or [email protected].

A Evening with Wisdom



IMG_0150 2

Wisdom Workforce Development interns are inviting Native community members to a consultation on Wednesday, April 20 at Zenger Farm.

Wisdom’s first Wisdom Workforce Development Program launched in Portland in March with eight Native American adults on the first team of interns. The team is completing classroom training and service learning activities focused on environmental assessment and habitat restoration.

The interns have been working at Kelly Butte Natural Area identifying propagation sites for Erythronium oregonum, removing invasive species (English ivy), and general site maintenance (litter removal, identifying sites with poison oak, etc.). They are currently at Zenger Farm working in the 50-foot buffer around the organic farm by preparing the soil for a fall planting of traditional First Foods species.,

The team will continue through May at sites along the Springwater Corridor and at Beggar’s Tick Wildlife Refuge where they will continue to learn about local threatened and endangered species, traditional First Foods, invasives, soils, pollinators, ecology, and climate impacts. Project partners include Portland Parks and Recreation, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Zenger Farm. Funding partners include Metro, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, East Portland Action Plan and Portland Development Commission.

Sunday May 1, 2016 10AM-7PM

Daybreak Star Arts and Cultural Center
Discovery Park
5011 Bernie Whitebear Way
Seattle, WA 98199

A day of traditional Native American storytelling with storytellers from the Pacific Northwest.

Lunch with traditional Native foods will be provided.

In addition to telling stories, the tellers will share in panels and workshops on the art and skill of storytelling to encourage audience members to become traditional storytellers.

Storytellers Featured:
Elaine Grinnell / Jamestown S’Klallam
Tammy Cooper / Nooksack
Lois Landgrebe / Tulalip
Raven Heavy Runner / Blackfeet
Jessica Dominy / Tlingit
Roger Fernandes / Lower Elwha S’Klallam
Toby Joseph / Ute & Apache




Wisdom of the Elders is inviting Native American college-age students in the Portland area to serve as peer mentors for Discovering Yidong Xinag*. This Native American youth leadership initiative is designed to engage Native youth in environmental and climate studies through service learning by serving as peer mentors to middle school youth. They will have opportunities to learn about their local ecosystem, explore higher education in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) fields, and pursue STEAM career pathways. They will also learn how to produce a short video about local environmental/climate issues.

For more information, visit:

To apply, visit:

*Yidong Xinag means “the old wisdom” in Deg Xinag dialect of Athabascan.