Thursday, October 30, 2014


My auntie Libby passed away this week. We saw one another just a few weeks ago at Richard's memorial, but now she is gone. Libby was always very good to me; she will be dearly missed. 

Salish Campaign

Joe Pakootas published a campaign add in the Colville-Okanagan Salish. I'm proud that one of our candidates is representing the Native American vote. 

Post by Pakootas for Congress.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Aboriginal Visit

Spokane Falls Community College is hosting a student group from Sydney, Australia. The students represent a variety of aboriginal peoples from around the country. 

On Monday, I was invited to meet with the students to discuss Native American history in the Spokane area. As the discussion progressed, we discovered many similarities regarding our common history of oppression. For example, more than 100,000 Indian children in the United States were removed from their homes and sent to live in residential schools. In Australia, several generations of aboriginal children were removed from their families and sent to orphanages. These children were known as the "stolen generation." The common purpose of both governments was to force indigenous peoples to assimilate into the dominant cultures. 

More importantly, we discovered our common spiritualities. Our respective cultures hold a deep respect for culture, language, nature, spirituality, and ancestral wisdom. I feel very much at home with these beautiful people. 

Dixie spoke to the students at SCC regarding the "stolen generation." Many of these individuals were descendants of the stolen generation. Many aboriginal people have lost contact with their families of origin as a direct result of government assimilation policies. A major theme of their visit surrounds their attempt to reconnect to their lost heritage. 

Albert has been a driver and cultural guide for the Australian students. At their presentation today at SCC, he sang a local song using an Australian musical instrument.  

We also had the opportunity to visit Spokane Falls. In this photograph, Christine is standing near the main falls. 


It was a beautiful day at Riverfront Park when we visited the falls. 

The rapids above Spokane Falls. 






Colin looked on as Albert sang by the falls. 


On Tuesday, I attended the Board of Trustees meeting for the Community Colleges of Spokane. Usually, the meeting is convened in Spokane, but every so often, the board meets in one of our outlying centers. Our most recent meeting was held in the Pullman Center. 

The community college holds class in the old Pullman High School.  

The WSU cougar is everywhere present in Pullman, including this carving on the bridge. 

The Pullman Center has a painting in the stairwell that depicts the westward expansion of the American empire. The settlers and the wagon train takes the center of the piece while the Indians watch passively to one side of the image. Disturbing. 

The outside of the old Pullman High School. 

The campus of Washington State University. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014


wičn sxaslqs č čsaxm łuʔ sčecuweʔ.
I saw a moose near Wellpinit. 

That moose was looking kind of mean in this picture, but I don't think I was in any danger. My camera has a pretty decent zoom lens, so I was actually quite far away. 

skʷkʷec spqniʔ

skʷkʷec spqniʔ.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


This afternoon, I drove home through Tum Tum and Suncrest. As I passed the pictographs at the base of the hill, I felt the urge to stop. I've probably seen these rock paintings a hundred times, but I always feel drawn to return. 

Years ago, the parks department posted a sign with the name sumix near the entrance of the site. Presumably, the name had some reference to the spiritual nature of the rock paintings. However, it was strange that they used a Colville-Okanagan word rather than a Spokane word, considering that the paintings reside well within Spokane territory. In the Colville-Okanagan language, sumix means something like "spirit power." We have a similar word in the Spokane language: sumeš. It makes me wonder who originally created the name. Did a park ranger from 50 years ago simply pick a name that seemed "Indian"? Did someone consult a Colville-Okanagan speaker to name a Spokane historical site? In short, how did a cultural site within the Spokane territory get a Colville-Okanagan name? Does anyone know the story? 

In any case, the sign has since been removed. 

Black Moss

On my drive this afternoon, I passed a beautiful tamarack tree draped in long strands of black moss. I can't even begin to describe the happiness I felt to see them. The moss seemed to say, "Where are your fellow moss pickers?" 

The Spokane Reservation

My view of the Spokane Indian Reservation this afternoon. 

Friday, October 24, 2014


What an awesome day! I got to spend several hours with Johnny Arlee this afternoon talking about language, spirituality, and education. Maybe sometime I'll get to share more of our conversation, but for now, I just want to express my gratitude for our meeting today. lemlmtš čoleʔ.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


This was my view of the partial solar eclipse today. 

A Dari Proverb

Yesterday, one of my students wrote: "A teacher is like a candle who burns him/herself to brighten others." When we came back to school this morning, I asked him to explain the origin of this saying. 

He said that teachers are revered in his home country of Afghanistan. As a result, his culture has produced many proverbs and sayings that honor teachers. 

At my request, my student reproduced the saying in its original language. He explained that the Dari language is one of the official languages of Afghanistan, and it is also closely related to Persian. The Dari language uses an Arabic script, even though the two languages are very different. 

One of my favorite parts of working at the college is that I get to meet people from so many different cultures, languages, religions, and beliefs. My students become my teachers, and like the proverb declares, they brighten my world.  

"A teacher is like a candle who burns himself to brighten others." 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


"A teacher is like a candle who burns him/herself to brighten others." 

When our program celebrated the birthday of a fellow teacher this morning, the students decorated the classroom and wrote words of encouragement on the white board. One student wrote: "A teacher is like a candle who burns him/herself to brighten others." 


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